The father of a Kentucky cheerleader who died last Saturday while at a competition with her team said his daughter complained of hamstring pain, and reportedly had numbness in her hands and weakness before her condition suddenly began rapidly deteriorating.
“I can’t get my head around it all at all,” Dan Schalk, 13-year-old Lilliana’s father, told Fox 19. “No discoloration, no tiredness, no weakness, no confusion – her grades all straight A’s across the board. Fit, athletic, no indication [of illness] and of course I’m racking my brain. Did I miss something?”
The family is still waiting for the results of an autopsy to determine her cause of death, but Schalk said the only ailment his daughter complained of prior to her death was a pain in her hamstring, which an X-ray had cleared on Saturday morning. He said they arrived at the competition in Columbus and were waiting for the team’s 5:50 performance when one of Lilliana’s coaches approached him.
“Coach says, ‘She’s kinda out of sorts, things definitely not normal,” he told Fox 19. “So we call a life squad, took her to the ER and things quickly degraded there to the ICU and in about two hours she was gone.”
He said his daughter’s heart stopped twice in the emergency room, and a total of four times last Saturday. He told the news outlet that he quickly went from thinking Lilliana was dehydrated or had a pinched nerve to realizing the seriousness of the situation when the liaison asked him if there was anyone he wanted to call.
“We went from waiting for her to perform at 5:50 p.m. to holding her hand and they announced that she passed at 7:40 – the only thing I can say was, ‘What the hell just happened? What happened? How can this be?’ just gone,” he told Fox 19.
The teen’s sudden death rocked the cheerleading community, and her high school and club teammates. Several vigils have already been held in her honor, with a service planned for March 1 in Fort Thomas near her home.
Lilliana was a student at Highlands Middle School but had been asked to join the Varsity cheer squad, and was also a member of the Premier Athletics NKY cheer team, which is who she had been competing with before the tragedy.