David Palmer Shannon

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David Palmer Shannon's signature phrase was "here we go," and it summarized his approach to life, friends said Sunday while mourning the 18-year-old UNC Chapel Hill student's death.

From playing on the Myers Park High School football team to volunteering as a youth group leader at his church, Shannon poured his energy into his interests and was always quick with a smile.

Shannon's body was found late Saturday night in Carrboro. The 2012 Myers Park graduate was in his first year at UNC Chapel Hill.

Police said they had not determined a cause of death. But in a statement early Sunday, Chancellor Holden Thorp said officials do not believe anyone else in the community is in danger.

An autopsy is expected to be completed early this week, said family friend Bryan Joyner.

"Obviously the family is devastated," said Joyner. "I know there are a lot of questions that they have that they're hoping to find the answers to."

On Sunday, more than 70 people gathered at the Shannon home on Gordonvale Place in south Charlotte to share memories of Shannon and console his parents, Katy and Hugh, and his older brother, Stephen.

"He had a truly loving and friendly personality. He made friends easily," said Joyner. "He wasn't just well-liked, he was well-loved. Everyone adored David."

Joyner said Shannon was active at Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews while he was in high school. He was a leader in the youth group, taught children's Sunday school and served as a counselor at the church's children's camp.

Joseph McMurry, a student pastor at Carmel Baptist, said Shannon was "full of life and enthusiasm" and always helped liven up the church's youth Bible study.

"He was a personality. He was the David Letterman to our Sunday morning program," said McMurry. "He always had something witty to say."

McMurry said Shannon took an interest in mentoring younger parishioners and leading by example to show how to live the Bible's teachings.

"He was very intentional about faith defining him in his life," said McMurry.

Shannon, who was more than 6 feet tall, also played defensive end and tight end for the Myers Park football team.

Matthew Speas, Shannon's DECA adviser for the last four years, said "everything came real easy to him."

"He was always a bright guy, but in the last four years, I've seen him grow into an outstanding young man," he said. "He balanced fun and education well."

During his senior year, Shannon's classmates voted him "Best Future Husband," said Joyner.

"He was like a gentle giant. He was very masculine but at the same time he had this kindheartedness about him," said friend Kyle Hofmann, a freshman at Wofford College.

Speas said during lunch at the International DECA competition in Salt Lake City, a homeless man asked Shannon for food, and Shannon ended up buying a meal for the man.

And Greg Taylor, the Myers Park head football coach, said that when he fell backward and passed out during a practice in the spring of 2011, Shannon was the first person he saw when he regained consciousness, reaching out his hand to help.

"It's such a tragedy," said Taylor. "David was much more than a football player. He was a great young man."

Shannon graduated from Myers Park in 2012 and planned to study business. He had just been accepted into the Chi Phi fraternity. His pledge period was expected to end within the next week, said Joyner.

It was the second death of an undergraduate student at a North Carolina state university in less than a month. On Sept. 30, 19-year-old Tyler Blalock, a graduate of North Mecklenburg High and an Appalachian State University student, slipped on the edge of a creek and struck his head on rocks, according to an autopsy, which listed the cause of death as "accidental drowning."

Blalock was apparently alone when he fell into the water. His body was discovered in Boone by a passer-by.

- Elisabeth Arriero, The Charlotte Observer
Published in Charlotte Observer on Oct. 29, 2012
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