Lifestyle Health College Rower Dies at 23 of Unusual Bacterial Infection After Thinking it Was Tonsillitis A 23-year-old college rower died of an unusual bacterial infection, called Lemierre's syndrome, after thinking it was tonsillitis By Julie Mazziotta Julie Mazziotta Twitter Julie Mazziotta is the Sports Editor at PEOPLE, covering everything from the NFL to tennis to Simone Biles and Tom Brady. She was previously an Associate Editor for the Health vertical for six years, and prior to joining PEOPLE worked at Health Magazine. When not covering professional athletes, Julie spends her time as a (very) amateur athlete, training for marathons, long bike trips and hikes. People Editorial Guidelines Published on November 1, 2018 05:23 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: GoFundMe A 23-year-old college rower died suddenly of a rare bacterial infection, after brushing off her symptoms as tonsillitis. Samantha Scott was an accomplished coxswain for the women’s rowing team at Kansas State University, when she started feeling pain and swelling in her throat two weeks ago. Scott didn’t think too much of her symptoms, and by the time she went to the hospital it was too late to help. There, doctors diagnosed her with Lemierre’s syndrome, an extremely rare infection that starts with a sore throat and fever, and turns into swelling and pus that moves through the body. It’s not fully understood how the disease develops, but antibiotics are needed as soon as possible. The college student, who was pursuing a degree in architectural engineering, died on Saturday. “Samantha was a great leader for our program and more importantly a great person,” her rowing coach Patrick Sweeney said in a statement. “She was so well-liked by all of her teammates and had such a big impact on our program both on and off the water.” Scott’s longtime friend from her hometown of Fort Morgan, Colorado, said that the athlete would always brighten her day. “She could cheer you up if you were having a bad day, and just going to practice was like being with your family and being with someone who was always upbeat and happy,” Kennidi Cobbley told Fox 31 in Denver. RELATED VIDEO: Minnesota Mom Dies from Same E. Coli Infection That Killed Her Young Daughter 4 Years Ago Cobbley set up a GoFundMe page to help Scott’s parents with medical and funeral bills, and to set up a scholarship fund in her name. “They’re struggling to deal with what’s happening, and now they have this huge financial burden, and if there’s anything I can do to help, it’s just really to get the message out there,” Cobbley said.