FORT THOMAS, Kentucky -- Doctors are investigating the mysterious death of a 13-year-old cheerleader from Kentucky who passed away less than two hours after reportedly feeling ill just prior to a competition.
Lilliana Schalck was a flyer, her father said Monday night. At just 4-foot-10 and 80 pounds, the young teen was perfectly suited to being tossed into the air by her teammates, topping their human pyramids and landing safely.
"Everybody liked her," dad Dan Schalck told WCPO-TV. "She was supportive on the mat. Doing her thing, she was fierce, but when it comes to anyone else, she was very supportive."
Doctors still don't know exactly what happened to the eighth-grader on Saturday. Her father was waiting to watch her perform in a Columbus cheer competition when she told her teammates she had begun to feel sick. Her limbs tingled and she felt weak.
Her father thought she was suffering from dehydration or possibly anxiety, although she had never struggled with that before.
The team called an ambulance, and Lilliana was alert enough on the ride to respond to questions.
Doctors ferried her from the ambulance to the emergency room to intensive care. Whatever happened, though, they couldn't stop it. Less than two hours after she had begun to feel sick, she was gone.
"At one point, the medical staff said, 'If anyone's close to her, you need to call them,'" her father said. "And I'm like, 'You've got to be kidding me. How can this be?'"
He still doesn't know. But Monday night, the pain still fresh, he was comforted by the Highland Heights community's outpouring of love and support for his strong-willed, high-flying daughter.
She was a middle school student, but she was talented enough to compete with high school students. She was a ferocious competitor, but she loved her friends. Even as the Schalck family struggled with overwhelming grief, Dan remained grateful for the kindness of the people who knew her.
"There are really kind and good-hearted kids," he said.
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13-year-old Kentucky cheerleader dies mysteriously within 2 hours of feeling ill at competition