Austen passed away suddenly from complications of a massive ruptured brain aneurysm on September 24, 2016. Up until that time Austen seemed completely healthy. She exercised daily and ate healthy food. There were no outward signs of a brain aneurysm. Austen graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2015 and decided to return to school to try and pursue a PhD in counseling. After an afternoon shopping and dining out, she returned home and suddenly collapsed. She was immediately taken via ambulance to the nearby hospital where diagnostics were slow to happen. She lost consciousness and was airlifted to another hospital where she passed away as a result of the ruptured brain aneurysm. In 2018 her family and friends started an event that included a walk around the hometown of Fredericksburg, Va. followed by food trucks, music , a memory tent for other people in area to honor their loved ones affected by brain aneurysms. This event was named Austen’s Communitas 5k Walk because Austen felt that when people gather and have a shared experience it creates a special bond that fosters a sense of community.
The Austen L. Dunn Chair of Research was establish to help fund essential research that can directly benefit those affected and help to reduce the incidence of ruptured aneurysms.