Poquoson student dies at hospital after collapsing at school

Poquoson High School (Joe Fisher/WAVY Photo)
Poquoson High School (Joe Fisher/WAVY Photo)

POQUOSON, Va. (WAVY) — The Poquoson High School community is coming together after the unexpected death of a beloved sophomore who officials say collapsed in class Wednesday.

Poquoson Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Parish identified the student as Michael Belknap.

Michael Belknap (Photo courtesy Lindsey Swartz)
Michael Belknap (Photo courtesy Lindsey Swartz)

Emergency crews responded to the school before 8 a.m. and rushed the 16-year-old to the hospital where he later died, according to Poquoson Police Chief Cliff Bowen.

The chief says Belknap’s death appears to be a medical issue and is not considered suspicious.

Lindsey Swartz, who met Belknap in fifth grade at Poquoson Elementary School, says sadness filled the halls at school after the incident.

“It’s just hard because it happened so close,” said Swartz, who says Michael collapsed in first period gym class. “He was just one of the funnest people to be around, and we kind of just instantly clicked as friends.”

Swartz says Belknap’s simple acts of kindness made students smile.

“He was just very radiant, always very happy, always loved giving people hugs or making people happy. He would always hold the door open for someone,” she said.

Students signed three banners at school and filled them with comments like, “Rest easy Michael. We will miss you” and “I wish I could have gotten to know you better.”

“Our Islander family is really coming together, and it’s about supporting each other and supporting the family,” said Dr. Shelly Cihak, Principal of Poquoson High School.

Dr. Cihak says Belknap’s positivity will be missed, as the community leans on one another to get through the tragedy.

“This is the best school community possible,” said Cihak. “Michael is and will remain a special part of our school community.”

The Medical Examiner will determine Belknap’s official cause of death.

Counselors will be on hand again Thursday for students and staff.

Dr. Parish said parents were notified with a phone call. She released the following statement to 10 On Your Side:

We had a student, Michael Belknap, who passed away unexpectedly at the hospital today after being transported by Poquoson fire-rescue as a result of a medical emergency. We have additional counselors available at the school to provide assistance for our students, staff and community. We do have students signing a memorial banner in the school that will be provided to the family. We also remain in close contact with the family to assist them in any way we can and they are in our thoughts and prayers.”

This is a developing story. Stay with WAVY.com for updates.