Teen cheerleader's dad reveals how she died two hours after she felt tingling in her feet and numbness in her hands
A post-mortem examination was performed on the body of 13-year-old Lilliana Schalck to find the cause of death but the preliminary findings are yet to be released
Teenager Lilliana Schalck was just 10-minutes away from performing at a cheerleading contest in Ohio on February 23 when her father, Dan, said his fit and healthy daughter started complaining of feeling weak and a strange tingling sensation in her feet.
Almost two hours after she first complained of the discomfort, the cheerleading star from Kentucky was pronounced dead by staff at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. This left Dan feeling like he missed out on some key red flags that may have occurred before.
Dan told NBC News: "You just keep going over the sequence of events of the whole day and try to see if there was something that I missed... something more I could have done as her father." A post-mortem examination was performed on the body of the 13-year-old to find out her cause of death but the preliminary findings are yet to be released. The full report is said to take 8 to 10 weeks to be completed.
Dan, who was raising his daughter in Fort Thomas, said that the teen had complained to him about a persistent pain in her hamstring just days before the fateful competition in Columbus. The father said he took Lilliana to the doctor who took an X-ray but found nothing wrong with the hamstring.
The teen cheerleading champ was in the 8th grade at Highlands Middle School in Fort Thomas but would compete in competitions with the high school varsity team. She was also a member of Premier Athletics of Northern Kentucky, a private cheerleading, gymnastics, and dance team.
Dan accompanied his teen daughter to the All-Star cheerleading event in Ohio on February 23. Fox19 reported that as her squad was doing warm-ups, the team coach approached Lilliana's father and told him that something was wrong with her.
The worried parent initially thought that she was just dehydrated so he took her to the side and gave her some fluids but then she started getting weaker and wasn't acting like her normal self. As Lilliana sat on the floor, Dan recalled that she said her feet were starting to tingle and that her hands had grown cold and numb. Medics at the competition venue rushed the teen to the ER of the children's hospital where her condition rapidly degraded.
Dan told ABC News: "The nurse liaison pulled me aside and asked me who would be important in her life that I might like to call. In the ICU they were working on her. At some point, I was able to get close, hold her hand. At that point, they just couldn't do anymore."
According to the devastated father, his daughter's heart stopped a total of four times as the medical staff was trying to save her life. At 7:40 pm, which was only an hour and 55 minutes after the teen's team dropped out of the competition because of the illness, doctors at the hospital pronounced her dead. Dan recalled saying: "The only thing I can say was, 'What the hell just happened? What happened? How can this be?'."
Lilliana, who had dreamed of being a cheerleader at the college level and finally becoming an elementary school teacher, will be buried in her blue school uniform. The Highlands Middle School hosted a vigil on February 24 which drew hundreds of people comprising of students, teachers, and members of the local community.
The gathering was held in the school gymnasium where a picture of Lilliana was surrounded with blue chrysanthemum served as the centerpiece.
Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent Karen Cheser wrote a message to the parents confirming the death of the cheerleading teen.
A sad day for our community. pic.twitter.com/h2Vw0X0gOU— Fort Thomas Schools (@FTSchools) February 24, 2019
The post said: "She is beloved by so many and we know our students will need help through the grieving process." The school's athletic director, Kevin Nieporte, described the teen as one of the school's most gifted cheerleaders who was also an exemplary student and was popular among her peers.