NEOSHO, Mo. — A Crowder College international student died of apparent cardiac arrest over the weekend after being spotted having respiratory problems along Highway 59 in Neosho.

Police and first responders were called at 4 p.m. Saturday to the 19500 block of South Highway 59 near the intersection with Route AA regarding a man having trouble breathing. Police Chief David McCracken said a passer-by reported seeing the man drop to his knees in apparent respiratory distress.

The victim, later identified as Hugues Kazadi Mutombo, 22, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was taken to Freeman Neosho Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

There were no signs of foul play or accidental death, McCracken said. He said the victim was wearing workout clothes and had been exercising earlier in the day at the YMCA in Neosho.

An autopsy was performed Monday morning in Springfield. Newton County coroner Mark Bridges said Mutombo appeared healthy and seemed to have been a natural athlete, so Bridges was confident to rule the death a cardiac incident.

“Everything adds up to cardiac,” he said.

Bridges said the pathologist had determined that Mutombo didn’t show any symptoms of Ebola, and Bridges understood that Mutombo had been in the U.S. long enough to have passed the incubation period for the disease.

Bridges said the only reason he’d possibly amend the cause of death is if a toxicology report or microscopic examination indicated something different, and he didn’t think that was likely.

One problem with cardiac incidents is that if someone suffers a cardiac event and dies quickly, the heart won’t show signs of decay, making it hard to say what happened definitively, Bridges said. Mutombo’s heart appeared to be in good shape, he said.

“There’s just certain things you don’t find out from autopsies, and you’ll never know,” he said.

Mutombo came to Crowder in January 2012 to pursue a degree in biology/pre-nursing, according to a Crowder release. He had already obtained his certified nursing assistant certification.


Hugues Kazadi Mutombo has a brother who also attends Crowder and was called to the hospital, police Chief David McCracken said.

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