Hundreds mourn Va. high schooler killed by sudden illness

Hundreds mourn Va. high schooler killed by sudden illness

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Hundreds mourn Va. high schooler killed by sudden illness

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Hundreds gathered for a vigil for Madison Small on Tuesday.

Hundreds gathered for a vigil for Madison Small on Tuesday.

ASHBURN, Va. (WUSA9) – Hundreds of students, parents and friends of Broad Run High School senior Madison Small gathered Tuesday night to mourn her sudden death from an as-yet unidentified illness.

Small’s father Tim told WUSA9 he played catch with his daughter on Sunday, and the senior captain of her high school softball team was the picture of health. By Monday night she was suddenly ill and rushed to the hospital. Madison’s coach, Ed Steele, said Small’s father emailed him early Tuesday morning to say Madison would not make Tuesday night’s game. A few hours later he would call to say his daughter was dead.

The Virginia Medical Examiner’s office is now investigating Madison’s death, a spokesperson said, and an autopsy has been ordered.

Public Health and Loudoun County school district officials say there is no reason to believe Small’s illness poses any risk to other students or the community. Last week was spring break in Loudoun County, and Monday was a teacher workday, meaning even if Small’s sudden-onset illness was contagious, she was not in contact with other students.

School officials dismiss rumors about a mysterious virus as simply that – rumors – and indeed, Small’s father told WUSA9 that the family, too, has received no diagnosis of any kind for the fatal illness.

A medical examiner’s office spokesperson said the determination of a cause of death would likely take at least a week, possibly longer.

On the softball infield Tuesday night, a hastily-organized vigil drew hundreds of mourners. The solemn program was led by Madison’s softball teammates, who described her as a great leader, friend and role model.

“Because I play right behind her, I would always tell her- ‘Madison I’ve got your back,’ ” the team’s right fielder said, fighting back tears. “And I hope that now that she’s gone she always has mine still.”

Other students spoke of a young woman who helped timid freshmen find their classes and mentored younger players on the softball team.

Towards the end of the vigil, Madison’s father surprised many by taking the microphone to deliver a lesson already learned by his daughter’s untimely death.

“Life can be short,” Tim Small said, “Make the most of it. Love each other.”

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Hundreds mourn Va. high schooler killed by sudden illness
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