Woman Collapses, Dies Untended in Church

Times Staff Writer

Only after praying and chanting for five hours over a young woman who collapsed during a revival meeting did members of a Reno church call paramedics for help.

The woman, Jeanette Devine, a 29-year-old student and employee at the University of Nevada, was pronounced dead shortly after medical workers arrived at 2:25 a.m. Thursday.

A preliminary autopsy showed no clear cause of death, and authorities said further tests will be necessary.

Witnesses said Devine had jumped up, shouted and fell during the service.

Ruben Martin, a deacon at Faith Deliverance Church of God in Christ, said church members prayed over Devine for hours as she lay on the floor face down, chanting "Come out, devil." He said that when he left he believed she was still breathing.

The superintendent for northern Nevada for the Church of God in Christ, Luther Dupree, said the church members had not been careless because "when people come under the anointing of the holy spirit, they may fall prostrate, but they're not unconscious."

"It's unfortunate she died, but it's nothing that the church did," Dupree said Friday. "She was not unconscious. She was conscious, talking after she fell. We have a video that shows that.

"It's unfortunate it happened at a church service, but there was no negligence on the church's part. We've been having services for years and years and this is the first time something like this has happened."

He said church revivals, as a matter of policy, are not interrupted lightly because no one wants to disrupt the religious experience.

Nonetheless, as Reno police pursued an investigation of Devine's death Friday, Henry Amato, dean of the state university's College of Business Administration, where she worked, accused the church members of indifference.

"She was at the wrong place at the wrong time," Amato said. "Had she been any place else and fainted or fallen down, they would have called for help right away."

Amato said the shock was so great in his department that he sent his employees home for the day. "She was a Baptist," he said. "This wasn't even her church. Her sister or niece brought her there."

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