Bernard White: Family suspects norovirus is cause of death

(WJLA) - Bernard White broke barriers. He was Georgetown University’s first African-American basketball player. His college roommate, Pat Quinn and now Governor of Illinois, helped honor him a couple of years ago.

But after a stroke cut White’s political career short in 2005, he went to Woodbine, where warnings on the doors said to enter at your own risk after the norovirus hit the Woodbine Rehabilitation Center. And this past Saturday, he was rushed to Alexandria Hospital, where his sister-in-law, Dorothy White, arrived shortly afterwards.

"Bernard was unresponsive was sweating and his blood pressure was low -- about 10 minutes later, the doctor came in and told me that he had died and he told me he had vomited a lot of blood," said Dorothy.

While the White family tells us that doctors did not perform an autopsy to prove he contracted the norovirus, his family has drawn its own conclusions.

"I know that they had the norovirus in his unit and I suspect that that is what killed him," said Dorothy.

The virus causes violent vomiting along with intestinal problems, and usually lasts a day or so. But if someone was already in weak or poor health, the effects can be far more severe.

On Tuesday night, while they grieve White’s death, his family wonders if something could have been done to help him:

"It's just sort of the final insult in a way," said his niece, Diane White. "Someone with so much promise that could have this be the last thing to happen to him."