LITHONIA, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The family of a 17-year-old high school dance team member is reeling from shock and grief after she collapsed on the high school field and died suddenly in the ambulance.
Elyse Purefoy, who was set to start her senior year at Arabia Mountain High School, was at practice for the dance team early Monday morning when she had a medical emergency and passed away.
DeKalb County Fire officials said firefighters responded to the school campus near the track after a report of a person down.
Family members told FOX 5 News, the teenager was feeling tired that morning, went to practice and apparently collapsed while running laps; paramedics rushed to the school and according to her father, her heart stopped in the ambulance and first responders couldn't revive her as they rushed her to Emory Hillandale.
"She's a beautiful spirit. I'm going to miss her," said father Hank Purefoy, in tears. He described his daughter as a high-achiever who had a 3.9 GPA, had been a cheerleader since the third grade and was very physically fit. The teenager was also a member of Future Business Leaders of America.
The school district issued the following statement Monday:
“The entire DeKalb County School District community, and especially the Arabia Mountain High School family, mourns the passing of a member of the school’s dance team. Our hearts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”
A statement posted on the family's GoFundMe page reads:
“Today started just like any other day. I made you breakfast and lunch, and hugged you and told you to have fun at dance training. I smiled as I saw you and your brother get in the car to drive you to practice, but who could have known that you would not be coming home to us.
“The doctors did their best to bring you back but your heart just stopped working.
“Elyse you are a beautiful spirit. And we will miss you so much.
“Thank you to everyone who has called, prayed and shown support during our time of bereavement. There are no words to describe the hurt and loss we feel.
“We love you Elyse...”
Officials said the cause of death is still under investigation.