Elyse Purefoy, a 17-year-old student at Arabia Mountain High School in Lithonia, Georgia, and member of the school’s dance team, died Monday after running several laps around the school’s track and collapsing during dance practice, WGCL reports.
According to teammates and witnesses, Elyse asked the dance coach for water several times and didn’t get it. That disturbing report led her father, Hank Purefoy, to suspect his daughter died from severe dehydration. Malik Purefoy, Elyse’s brother, believes his sister’s cause of death could also be an undiagnosed heart condition.
“I think schools need to take it more seriously when they’re hearing complaints from their participants,” Elyse’s friend Arianna Ameler told WGCL. “I think a lot of it is overlooked as you being weak.”
According to local weather reports, it was approximately 72 degrees in Lithonia on Monday.
The DeKalb County School District issued the following statement:
“The entire DeKalb County School District community, especially the Arabia Mountain High School family, mourn the tragic loss of a member of the school’s dance team. Our hearts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”
Elyse, who was an honor student and also on the school’s cheerleading squad, was going into her senior year. Her family has set up a GoFundMe to assist with funeral expenses.