High school senior dies from infection

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, April 1, 2013

Tanner Lewis (WRDW-TV)
Tanner Lewis (WRDW-TV)

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- An entire school and an entire community was struck hard by the death of Tanner Lewis.

"The whole school is devastated," said Midland Valley High School student Jarrod Bridges.

"Everyone was really depressed and really sad," said Midland Valley student Sydney Strom.

As a high school senior at Midland Valley High School, Lewis had a bright future ahead of him.

"He was going somewhere with his life," said Midland Valley student James Bolen. "He had plans."

He was an Eagle Scout and had been accepted into Duke University.

"He was like the kid every parent wants to have," Strom said. "He was really smart and he was sweet and he didn't do anything to anybody."

Strom has known Lewis since elementary school and can't believe he's gone.

"It happened in the blink of an eye ... you don't think it's ever really going to happen," Strom said.

The Aiken County coroner says Lewis went to Georgia Regents for strep throat but developed an infection and died Sunday.

"Most people are not aware of the term sepsis because we term it as an infection," said Dr. Tarak Patel, an infectious disease, HIV, hepatitis and travel medicine expert.

Sepsis is a term for a severe infection in the blood that spreads through the body.

"When you have infection, our body responds by increasing the immune response against the bacteria or pathogen," Patel said.

And while the immune system fights back, it can cause the body to shut down.

"Nobody is immune to sepsis," Patel said. "In fact, sepsis kills more than 100,000 in the United State every year. And it's in the top 15 leading cause of death in the U.S."

But this death is especially painful in this small community.

"He was such a young kid and he had so much potential and he was really going places and the fact that it's all gone now -- it really sucks," Bridges said.

Now, students just want to remember the amazing person Lewis was.

"He was like a really good person," Strom said. "He was always there when you needed help. It's a very sad thing that happened."

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