A Twin Cities father said autopsy results show that his teenage son died while visiting North Dakota State University from complications of a heart inflammation and not from drugs, alcohol or “any choices” he made that weekend last month.
Devin R. Delaney, 17, a senior at Burnsville High School, died in a seventh-floor dorm room on Sept. 17 while visiting friends. University officials quickly eliminated foul play having a role in Delaney’s death in Sevrinson Hall.
Tom Delaney, of Savage, posted Saturday on Facebook that his son died in his sleep from an abnormal heartbeat caused by an inflamed heart. He added that a viral infection most commonly brings on such an inflammation.
Cass County Deputy Coroner Darin Haverland confirmed Monday afternoon the father’s account of what killed his son. Haverland added that a virus “presumably” is what led to the teen being stricken.
The father went on to emphasize in his posting that the family has “confirmation that drugs, alcohol or any physical activity was in no way a factor in Devin’s passing. ... Devin and the friends around him did not making any choices ... that weekend that could have contributed to his death in any way.”
Tom Delaney said he was going public with the findings “so friends of Devin know what happened and Devin’s image remains true.”
The father did acknowledge that the autopsy results showed a “negligible amount” of alcohol in his son’s system.
An attorney for the family, Paul O. Taylor, said Monday that the Grand Forks coroner’s office, which conducted the autopsy on behalf of Cass County, measured the teen’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at 0.027 percent.
Cass County’s Haverland confirmed that measure for Devin Delaney’s BAC and added that Dr. Mark Koponen in the Grand Forks coroner’s office said “alcohol was not a contributing factor” in the teen’s death.
Tom Delaney’s Facebook posting scolded a few news outlets for using his son’s photo in reporting the death and telling of the dangers of binge drinking.
Also, the Forum newspaper in Fargo reported that search warrant affidavits listed evidence in the death as a bottle of vodka, a bottle of rum and a box for beer.
“It was truly inappropriate for the news media to jump to conclusions,” he wrote. “Shame on them!!”
Devin Delaney was a top player on the high school lacrosse team, played junior gold hockey and took advanced placement classes at Burnsville.
Along with his father, Devin Delaney is survived by his mother, Kjirstin, and siblings Dylan and Deanna.