UPDATE: The Collin County Medical Examiner’s office has announced Collins Chima’s cause of death as sickle cell disease complicated by a foot injury. The death is categorized as an accident.
Toxicology report shows no signs of illegal substances, police say no indication of physical trauma
An 18-year-old freshman was found dead in his dorm room in Res Hall West on Oct. 18.
After Collins Chima, who was studying neuroscience, hadn’t replied to numerous phone calls and texts, his family called for a welfare check. That’s when Chima’s body was found.
“I was totally numb,” said Vivian Chima, Collins’ older sister. “I’m still numb. I still think that this is like a dream, like this is not happening.”
Toxicology reports from the Collin County Medical Examiner’s office found that there were no signs of alcohol or drugs in his system. The official cause of death has yet to be determined.
Additionally, an investigation by UTD Police found that there were no signs of physical trauma or suicide.
Vivian said Chima had a number of offers from other universities, but chose to come to UTD because of its neuroscience program. His plan was to one day become a neurologist and open a clinic in Nigeria
“He was so psyched about leaving home for the first time,” she said. “I took him to the orientation and everything … He was just looking forward to his life. He was just excited about, you know, school and making new friends.”
Chima was the youngest of six siblings and was the only boy. This led to him getting coddled by the rest of his family, something that Vivian saw as driving him to push for his own independence and establish his own identity as a man.
Vivian, who described herself as being like a “second mom” to Chima, fondly remembered how Chima shed his childhood nickname of “OC” once he reached UTD and instead preferred to go by his first name, which he believed was more mature.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, this is the new me. I’m a man now, so I need to go to a man name,’” Vivian said.
Vivian said Chima loved anime and had even planned to travel to Japan this summer. He was also looking forward to taking part in her wedding in Nigeria this winter.
“He was excited,” she said. “He was the only male, because my dad also passed away … He was talking about going to the capital of Nigeria with his sisters … He just talked so much about plans ahead of him.”
At UTD, Chima quickly became involved with campus life. He had become interested in Pi Kappa Phi and was planning on joining the fraternity.
Afeef Ali, a business administration and finance sophomore and a member of Pi Kappa Phi, had taken on the role of Chima’s mentor in the organization. ”
“We had a meeting with everyone and a few counselors right when we heard the news,” he said. “We just sat there in silence because we did not know what to say.”
The day before he died, Chima was at a Pi Kappa Phi event where they named the big and little pairings before he went home. UTD Police are not investigating the fraternity for any wrongdoing.
Ali, who had become close to Chima during the rush process, said the fraternity is planning on holding a candlelight vigil later this month in memory of Chima. For Ali, Chima’s willingness to give is what stood out the most to him.
“He loved helping others,” he said. “He was very ambitious, also. He was a pre-med. He really wanted to be a doctor. He always talked about helping people and doing the best he could … He would always put a smile on anyone’s face.”
As others memorialize Chima’s life, Vivian said she hopes people continue pursuing their goals in her brother’s memory.
“I just want people to remember him as a person who came in with a dream and it was cut short,” she said. “We want people in that school to continue on with their dreams and be careful what they do.”