Elyse Purefoy is a 17-year-old Georgia high school student who died after suddenly collapsing during a dance team workout, WSB-TV reports.
Purefoy, who recently became a member of the dance team at Arabia Mountain High School in Lithonia, collapsed on the school’s track Monday morning. She later died at a local hospital
Purefoy’s family described her as a healthy young woman whose mother is a nutritionist.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of her death.
Her brother, Malik Purefoy, told WSB that there were two possibilities that may have caused Elyse’s death.
“One was that it was severe dehydration,” he said. “Another one is that she had a heart problem.”
Along with her position on the dance team, Purefoy also served as the captain of the school’s cheerleading squad and had a 3.9 grade point average. She was heading into her senior year.
Purefoy’s Father Says Elyse Was Repeatedly Denied Water
Elyse’s father Hank told WGCL that his daughter died on the way to the hospital. She collapsed after running several laps around the school’s track.
He said he believes she severe dehydration played a role in her death.
Several teammates said that Elyse had asked the coach for water several times during the workout but was denied, according to WGCL. The temperatures in the area were around 72 degrees at the time.
“I think schools need to take it more seriously when they’re hearing complaints from their participants,” Elyse’s friend Arianna Ameler told the outlet. “I think a lot of it is overlooked as you being weak.”
Elyse’s family members told Fox 5 Atlanta that she was feeling tired before practice.
Purefoy had undergone a physical prior to joining the dance team, WSB reported.
Family Says Elyse’s Heart ‘Just Stopped Working’
A GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Purefoy’s family has already surpassed its $5,000 goal.
“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,” Elyse’s father wrote. “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.”
“Just last night I was helping her, I was helping her practice her stands for dance,” Elyse’s sister Elona Purefoy told WGCL. “Now she’s gone.”
The DeKalb County School District said in a statement to WSB that the entire community “mourns the passing of a member of the school’s dance team.”
“Our hearts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” the district said.