Park Ridge girl, 7, dies after becoming ill at cheer camp at Maine South

Updated 6/28/2016 5:17 PM

A 7-year-old Park Ridge girl died Monday after becoming ill at the second-­ through fifth-grade Summer Cheer Camp at Maine South High School, Maine Township High School District 207 said in a news release Tuesday.

After the girl, Kate Babich, a student at Field Elementary School in Park Ridge, became ill unexpectedly, she was transported by the Park Ridge Fire Department to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where she was pronounced dead about 1 p.m., officials said.

Kate collapsed after she was taken out of practice because she was having trouble breathing, Park Ridge Deputy Police Chief Duane Mellema said. A trainer performed CPR until paramedics and a responding police officer took over. Paramedics also used an automated external defibrillator, he said.

There was no external indication of the cause of death and everything indicates a natural cause, Mellema said. But detectives are interviewing camp staff to make sure they have a complete picture of what happened, he said.

The Cook County medical examiner's office conducted an autopsy Tuesday, but the results were inconclusive. Officials said it could be another 90 days until the investigation is complete and an official cause of death is released.

"All of us at (Park Ridge-Niles) District 64 are saddened by the loss of one of our students, and extend our deepest sympathies to her family," Superintendent Laurie Heinz said in a news release. "Kate is known as an inspired learner, a leader and a good friend to everyone in her class. You know her classmates and Field staff will miss her dearly." The remainder of cheerleading camp, originally scheduled to run through Friday, has been canceled.

Maine South High School is making crisis counselors available for parents and children who had been attending the camp. District 64 is making counselors available for parents, students and staff at Field Elementary School, and has distributed resources directly to its parents. District 207 also has made resources available for parents looking for assistance in speaking with their children about grief and loss.

"Maine South High School and Maine Township High School District 207 extend our deepest sorrow and condolences to the Babich family and friends," District 207 said in the news release.

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