Friends and family members are mourning the death of Briahna Gerloff, who died shortly after shoveling the snow outside of her home in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
Gerloff, who was 18-years-old and eight months pregnant with a little girl, had been outside shoveling snow with her younger brother on Saturday, January 23, even though her family members told her they didn’t think it was a good idea. Not only was Briahna nearing the end of her pregnancy, she also suffered from several heart defects, including Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW). According to the Mayo Clinic, WPW is a condition that causes “an extra electrical pathway between your heart’s upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles) causes a rapid heartbeat (tachycardia).”
“I told her it probably wasn’t a good idea for her to be outside shoveling,” a family member told NBC News. “She wanted to do it anyway.”
— Trending Deaths (@Obitolizer) January 25, 2016
Gerloff’s younger brother said he went back across the street to take a short break, while Gerloff went into her home. He said he later returned to find the door locked. Obviously worried about his sister, Gerloff’s brother went into the house through the basement and started calling out her name.
“I went upstairs, yelling her name, looking for her,” he recalled. “I went to the bottom of the steps and yelled her name.”
Briahna’s brother then entered the kitchen where he found her unresponsive on the floor. He immediately started performing CPR in hopes of reviving his sister, while a neighbor came over to assist.
“I started doing CPR,” he said. “That’s when my neighbor came over and helped with CPR and tried to revive her and then the ambulance came.”
Despite their efforts, Briahna and her unborn baby, Kayliana, were pronounced dead at the hospital.
“She was a very good person,” her brother said, “a caring and loving person and she could not wait to be a mother.”
Following the news of her death, one of Briahna’s childhood friends set up a GoFundMe account to help the family with their funeral expenses. The original goal was set at $1,000. However, that number has already been surpassed, with 56 people donating a total of $1,715 in only one day.
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) January 24, 2016
“Today, January 23, 2016 God took not one, but two beautiful angels,” the friend wrote. “Gone too soon. Briahna was 18 years old and 8 months pregnant with her daughter Kayliana. She passed away this morning as well as her daughter. Her family now has to deal with all the emotional stress of losing Briahna & Kayliana, but in two short months it will be three years since Briahna’s mother passed away. They also have to deal with financial stress including funeral costs. I know we will not raise the full goal, but every little bit helps! Please keep the Gerloff family in your thoughts and prayers!”
A candlelight vigil will be held for Briahna and Kayliana on Saturday, January 30 at 5:00 p.m. on 14 E. Second Street in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. As of Monday, January 25, Briahna’s cause of death has not been determined. The police are continuing with their investigation.
According to WebMD, the task of snow shoveling sends on average more than 11,000 adults and children to the hospital every year with bad backs, broken bones, head injuries, and even deadly heart problems. From 1990 to 2006, approximately 195,000 people in the United States were treated in a hospital emergency room for an injury or health condition related to shoveling snow.
“Not only is the heart’s workload increased due to shoveling snow, but cold temperatures also add to the chances of a heart attack in at-risk individuals,” study researcher Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, said in a press release for his study that was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine in 2011.
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