'Every parent's nightmare came true': 13-year-old dies during tug-of-war game at school

By Lindsey Bever

Maddison Wentworth. Photo / Supplied
Maddison Wentworth. Photo / Supplied

Thirteen-year-old Maddison Wentworth had been counting down the days until her school's field day activities, friends and family said, ready for things such as sack races, softball tosses and water-balloon fights.

"She was excited about Field Day," her mother, Leslie Wentworth, told NBC affiliate WVTM. "She had $10 that burned a hole in her pocket to spend."

But during a tug-of-war game Thursday, the teen slumped to the ground, police told Al.com. School nurses rushed to her side, performing CPR. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

It's still unclear what exactly happened Thursday at Williams Intermediate School in Pell City, Ala.; authorities have not said whether Maddison had any preexisting medical conditions. But Amanda Garrett, a parent whose daughter was on the opposing team, told CBS affiliate WIAT that her daughter said Maddison had complained about a headache and dizziness before she passed out.

It was about lunchtime when, Wentworth told FoxNews.com, she got a call from the school - her daughter had collapsed and may have had a seizure.

"The school nurses were already on the scene for the field day and were with her instantly," Pell City police spokesman Don Newton told Al.com. "They immediately began CPR," he said, and school officials dialed 911.

After paramedics arrived, Maddison was rushed to St. Vincent's St. Clair Hospital in Pell City, not far from Birmingham, police said.

"They continued the life-saving methods on the way to the hospital but," Newton told Al.com, "at some point, she was pronounced dead."

The St. Clair County coroner said an autopsy has been scheduled.

Garrett, the other parent, said her daughter told her that water was not easily accessible.

"She told me that they were only allowed to get water if they went to go to the restroom," Garrett told WIAT. "Otherwise they had to buy the water; she said it was like a dollar or a $1.50 a bottle."

Newton, the police sergeant, told the news station there was water at "cooling stations" but he did not know whether it cost money.

Maddison, or Maddie, was a sixth-grader and a member of her school's science club, her mother said.

"She was a beautiful kid. She was a bright star," Wentworth told WVTM. "She was going to go places."

Following her daughter's death, Wentworth told FoxNews.com she was "pulling my strength from God."

"The love I've received from the community has just been overwhelming," she told the news station.

A GoFundMe page that was set up for Maddison on Friday said it is a "horrific time" for the family.

"Sadly, at the young age of 13, Maddie was called home and every parent's nightmare came true for Maddie's parents," according to the GoFundMe page. "The cause is still unknown at this time and we will update as soon as we know more. This family is going through more than any should ever have to endure. Lets help take some of the burden off and help with the financial side of this horrific time in their lives."

By late Saturday morning, more than $8,800 had been raised for Maddison's memorial fund.

Pell City Schools Superintendent Michael Barber urged the community to pray for the family.

"We have suffered a great loss at Williams Intermediate School," he said in a statement, according to Al.com. "Field day is supposed to be one of the best days of the year. 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."

Maddison's mother said her daughter will be remembered as a smart and caring teenager.

"She loved everybody. She loved animals. She loved holding babies and taking care of them," her mother told WVTM. "She loved singing. She could sing. Drive you crazy singing."

- Washington Post

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