Georgia Southern student’s death in September ruled as natural causes

Shiann Sivell

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released the cause of death for a Georgia Southern University student who was found dead at Freedom’s Landing in September.

The cause of death of GS student Malik Jones, 20, was ruled as natural causes due to a cardiac arrhythmia, or Sudden Cardiac Death, according to the autopsy report by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The autopsy report

The report stated that Jones’ had no previous history and his blood work was negative for alcohol, certain drugs and opioids.

However, Jones’ did have marijuana in his system, according to the report.

Joni Skipper, the regional medical examiner who performed Jone’s autopsy, said that it was not likely that marijuana contributed to his death but said that drug use, both therapeutic and recreational, always involves some degree of risk.

Jones’ mother, Lucinda Scotland, said in a previous interview that Jones had recently become a vegan.

Skipper said that this dietary change most likely did not contribute to Jones’ death but still can have a medical affect.

“Sudden and extreme changes in a person’s diet may lead to electrolyte abnormalities that rarely can be life-threatening,” Skipper said.

Skipper stated in the report that the arrhythmia was most likely caused by a genetic factor.

“Many etiologies of Sudden Cardiac Death in the young have a genetic component,” Skipper said in the report. “First-degree relatives may need to consider consulting with a physician regarding risk assessment and therapy for surviving family members.”

A closer look at arrhythmia

An arrhythmia is caused by a disruption of your heart’s normal electrical system, which regulates the heart rate and heart rhythm.

Skipper said that SCD in the people under 35 years of age may be divided into three groups, all of which have genetic components:

  • Those due to a cardiomyopathy
  • Those due to premature coronary artery disease
  • Those associated with the primary arrhythmia syndromes

“When a heart is structurally normal and the coronary arteries show no significant disease, a primary arrhythmia syndrome may be present,” Skipper said. “Much research has been done to identify mutations in genes involved in the conduction system of the heart, and genetic testing of family members may be appropriate in select cases.”

Skipper said that cardiac arrhythmia can be identified from a electrocardiogram, or an EKG. The results may indicate a structural abnormality in the heart or an abnormal rhythm that can be treated.

Symptoms may include chest pain, dizziness, rapid heart beat, and shortness of breath, particularly with exertion.

Remembering Malik Dante Jones

Jones was a junior business administration and management major and hoped to one day open his own car dealership.

Jones’ mother, Lucinda Scotland, said in a previous interview that her son was a vegan, car enthusiast and lover of life.

Scotland could not be reached for further comment at this time.

Breanna Bennett, a friend of Jones and a junior and mechanical engineering major at GS, said in a previous interview that Jones was a good friend and more.

“He’d always find some way to put a smile on your face,” Bennett said. “Malik Dante Jones was the sweetest person you’d ever meet.”

Jones was laid to rest in his home state of Newark, New Jersey.

Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Enterprise Reporter, [email protected]