The exact cause of a Park Ridge child’s death during a summer cheerleading camp at Maine South High School remained undetermined Tuesday.
Becky Schlikerman, spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, said further studies were required to determine the cause of 7-year-old Katherine “Kate” Babich’s death.
The M.E.’s office reported that Kate was pronounced dead just before 1 p.m. Monday.
According to a statement released by Maine Township High School District 207, Kate was attending a summer cheerleading camp for children in grades 2-5 when she became ill Monday, just before noon. The camp was run by Maine South High School in the campus’ field house, District 207 spokesman David Beery said.
Park Ridge Deputy Police Chief Duane Mellema said a camp staff member reported that the girl was not feeling well during the camp and was taken to the side, where she collapsed. A trainer, who reported that the girl was having difficulty breathing, began performing CPR, and paramedics were called, Mellema said.
Paramedics and a responding police officer took over CPR upon their arrival to the Maine South field house and also tried to revive her using an automated external defibrillator, Mellema said. Kate was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where she was pronounced dead at 12:59 p.m., he said.
In a private Facebook message, Kate’s mother, Jennifer Babich, said the family appreciated the kind thoughts from others.
“We would like to thank everyone in our community for their support,” Jennifer Babich said in the message.
Park Ridge detectives were scheduled to interview several camp staff as part of the death investigation, Mellema said.
District 207 said the remaining sessions of the cheerleading camp that Kate attended have been canceled.
Kate had just completed the first grade at Field School in Park Ridge, according to a statement from Park Ridge-Niles School District 64.
“All of us at District 64 are saddened by the loss of one of our students and extend our deepest sympathies to her family,” Superintendent Laurie Heinz said in the statement. “Kate is known as an inspired learner, a leader and a good friend to everyone in her class. I know her classmates and Field staff will miss her dearly.”
Crisis counselors are being made available to parents and students at Maine South and at Field School, according to both school districts. A police department social worker also has been working with the Babich family and others, Police Chief Frank Kaminski said. Support within the city also is being extended to the police and paramedics who responded, he said.
“We have a series of services available to everyone who was there,” Kaminski said. “It’s a tragic event, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”