Tragedy struck on Thursday during what was supposed to be an innocent contest of tug-of-war. A 13-year-old girl died a short while after she collapsed at school while playing tug of war, which is a game played when two teams pull at opposite ends of a rope until one drags the other over a central line. According to reports, Maddison Wentworth complained about headaches and dizziness during the game and then fell to the ground unconscious.
The tragic incident happened while Maddison was participating in field day activities at Williams Intermediate School in Alabama on Thursday, reported CBS Birmingham affiliate WIAT-TV. The girl’s mother, Leslie Wentworth, was heartbroken by the sudden passing of her daughter, and she spoke to reporters about how her excited her daughter was in the days leading up to the event.
“She was excited about Field Day,” Wentworth was quoted as saying. “She had $10 that burned a hole in her pocket to spend.”
Pell City police spokesman Sgt. Don Newton said the incident happened about noon, AL.com reports.
“The school nurses were already on the scene for the field day and were with her instantly,” Newton told reporters. “They immediately began CPR.”
Paramedics arrived at the school a short while later and Maddison was rushed to St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital in Pell City, which is a short distance from Birmingham. Despite their efforts, Maddison died before reaching the hospital for reasons that still are not known.
“They continued the life-saving methods on the way to the hospital but, at some point, she was pronounced dead,” Newton explained.
One of Maddison’s classmates on the opposing team said she heard her complain of a headache and dizziness shortly before she collapsed.
A few parents of children who attend the school were upset because the school was selling water during Field Day and they believe the school should have made water more available to students on such a hot day.
“She told me that they were only allowed to get water if they went to go to the restroom, otherwise they had to buy the water, she said it was like a dollar or a $1.50 a bottle,” said parent Amanda Garrett, quoting her daughter. However, in a statement released on Friday, superintendent Dr. Michael Barber said there were drinks being sold at concession stands, but teachers also made water available to the students through the many water fountains inside the school for students to use. According to WIAT, CBS42 reached out to school officials regarding the availability of “cooling stations,” but they haven’t received a reply as of the time of this report.
Following Maddison’s death, Pell City Schools gave the below statement.
“It is with great sadness that we report the loss of one of our precious sixth grade students. Our thoughts and prayers go to our student’s family. Counselors have been provided for students of Williams Intermediate School and counseling services will continue as long as needed.”
“We have suffered a great loss at Williams Intermediate School. Field day is supposed to be one of the best days of the year,” Barber wrote in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, and with the faculty and students who knew her and loved her every day. And I would ask everyone to keep this family and the system in their prayers as well.”
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