News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 17, 2013

Elementary school saddened by student’s death

Grief counselors will be available today

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A 9-year-old Dixie Bee Elementary student died unexpectedly Wednesday evening as the result of pneumonia, said Vigo County Coroner Susan Amos on Thursday.

An autopsy was conducted Thursday.

The girl hadn’t been feeling well for a few days and went to the doctor Wednesday morning. She was able to walk out of her home and she also walked back into her home after the medical appointment, Amos said.

But later that day, the 9-year-old collapsed and could not be revived. Emergency medical personnel were summoned and the girl was taken to the Terre Haute Regional Hospital emergency room.

The death appears to be from natural causes, Amos said.

But anytime there is a child or infant death, law enforcement, the coroner’s office and Child Protective Services work together “to make sure we’re not missing anything,” she said.

So far, there is no evidence of abuse, neglect or mistreatment, she said. “Nothing at this point raises any red flags.”

Sometimes, pneumonia can progress quickly and people “can get very sick, very fast,” she said.

The girl went to school Monday but wasn’t feeling well and went home. She developed a fever later in the day, Amos said.

Vigo County School Corp. superintendent Dan Tanoos learned of the child’s death Wednesday night. “We’re very saddened by it,” he said. “The worst part of my job is getting a phone call about the loss of a student.”

Mika Cassell, Dixie Bee principal, said “the whole Dixie Bee family is just devastated … She was a sweet little girl and always had a smile on her face. She was kind to everyone.”

The 9-year-old has a sister in third grade at Dixie Bee, and the mother volunteers at the school.

“It’s just a tragedy,” Cassell said.

Grief counselors and central office staff were on hand Thursday morning at Dixie Bee, and the school later sent a letter home with students. Grief counselors will be available again today at the school.

On Saturday, there will be a moment of silence for the 9-year-old during the Steve Weatherford Rush the Punter fundraising event at Fairbanks Park, Tanoos said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or