Family, friends mourn UNC student as new info comes to light - WFLA News Channel 8

Family, friends mourn UNC student as new info comes to light

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Hundreds mourned UNC student Harris Pharr, who died on Thursday. Hundreds mourned UNC student Harris Pharr, who died on Thursday.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The father of a UNC Chapel Hill student who died suddenly last week is shedding light on how his son may have died.

UNC biomedical engineering student and Chi Phi fraternity leader Harris Pharr was found dead on Thursday night.  Police said no foul play was suspected, but were waiting on the medical examiner's report before releasing further details.

Harris Pharr's dad John Pharr said Tuesday that he recently spoke with the medical examiner, who said the cause of death was likely cardiac arrest.  John Pharr said it was possibly due to stress from ongoing studies.

"Harris was up many nights," Pharr said.  "I saw him just a few days before his death.  He was at our house.  He was up at four in the morning working on another program."

A final report from the medical examiner may not come for weeks but Pharr says the cause of death is not as important as the mark his son left behind.

"You never know what you go through with something as horrific as the death of a child," Pharr said. "But you do feel the love and support and you feel the grieving, and that hurts probably more, knowing that people are grieving than the loss of a child.  It's hard to explain."

Pharr's comments came following a candlelight vigil held in honor of his son at the Old Well on UNC Chapel Hill's campus on Tuesday night.

Fellow Chi Phi fraternity brothers and friends sang songs, shared stories and lit candles.

"It's the summer term and here we are with 250 to 300 people," Inter-fraternity Council President Kenan Drum said.  "It's just a testament to how well known and how well liked this man was."

Pharr grew up in Raleigh and was a Broughton High School graduate, avid swimmer and described as hard-working and gifted.

"He had it all. He was the most intelligent, but he was so friendly," Drum said.  "He had such a big smile.  When you saw Harris, you always saw the smile."

It's a smile, Harris Pharr's dad shared even after his son's death.

"It is a grieving time for us, but it's also a time of celebration," Pharr said.

Funeral services are set for Wednesday.  The family has also set up a scholarship in Pharr's name.  Donations are being received to the Harris Pharr memorial scholarship for Academic Excellence.  Click here for more information.

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