A Henrico teen died after completing a Virginia Beach half-marathon on Sunday. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
Cameron Gallagher was just 16-years-old when she ran the Shamrock Half-Marathon. Shortly after she finished, she said she didn't feel well. She went to a first aid tent, became unconscious, and was then taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital where she later died.
Her parents are talking to NBC12 and hope people will focus on the positive life Cameron led.
When the half marathon runners left the start, Cameron took off. At mile three a photo her father took shows that she's all smiles.
"She was so excited that she could barely contain it," says David Gallagher.
Every step to the finish line, was one step closer to completing a goal months in the making.
"There were several training runs that were very hard for her and she never quit," he said.
She was running with her best friend.
"We saw them again at mile 9.5 or 10 and they were visibly tired but happy to complete the race."
Cameron finished the race, but her family says she soon became weak and collapsed near the finish line.
"They were trying very hard to get her heart to start beating right again and Cameron really had a hard time coming out of it," he said.
The Freeman High School sophomore who also attended St. Gertrude's last year, died at the hospital.
Now her family, which includes four other siblings, is trying to find sense in her death. This is what they want people to know right now. "She ended overcoming one of her greatest obstacles and goals and Grace and I are dedicated to making sure that word gets spread," says David.
Very quickly family and friends learned of Cameron's death. Her youth pastor tells NBC12 that on the night she died, several hundred people showed up at her church for a prayer vigil.
That kind of community support is overwhelming for the Gallagher family.
"It's a testament to who she is she is a person that deserves all of this love and support," says David.
Cameron was also a highly competitive swimmer. Her parents say she passed her physical exams to compete every year and the teen never had any health problems. Grief counselors will be made available at her high school.
Officials are still working to determine her cause of death.
The event organizers sent the following press release:
At approximately 9:30 a.m., Sunday, March 16, a runner collapsed at finish line of the Shamrock Half Marathon event. Medical personnel monitoring the finish line area immediately responded and transported her to a nearby medical tent. Race medical staff and EMS personnel initiated resuscitation efforts and ultimately transported her by ambulance to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The victim has been identified as Cameron Gallagher, 16 years old. She lived in Richmond, Virginia.
A large EMS presence was on standby throughout the weekend's race events. For the marathon and half marathons, over 80 emergency medical personnel were deployed using ambulances, golf carts, bicycles and foot patrols. At one time, 14 ambulances were on site, 12 from the Rescue Squads of Virginia Beach and 2 from the Navy Mid-Atlantic Regional Fire Department. Medical tents staffed by physicians, nurses and allied professionals were also available along the race route. EMS crews evaluated 19 patients Sunday, transporting 4 of them to the hospital. An unknown number of additional patients self-reported to the medical tents for assistance.
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