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Officials Issue Warning After Healthy Student Begins Vomiting And Dies While Hiking

A young student died after she began uncontrollably vomiting during a hike. Susanna DeForest, from Collegeville in Pennsylvania, was with friends in Conundrum Hot Springs, Colorado. Ms. DeForest was accompanied by a group of friends who witnessed the incident. After collapsing, Ms. DeForest’s friends frantically contacted a nearby rescue team and requested help for a “grievously ill hiker.”

Horrifyingly, they were too late and Ms. DeForest was pronounced dead later in the day. Coroners and emergency respondents have stated that intense altitude sickness caused the fatal episode. The young girl’s mother, Kate DeForest informed friends and family in a tragic post on Facebook, writing: “Dear Friends, many of you already know this, but on Friday, we lost our daughter, Susie DeForest. She was hiking in Colorado and suffered acute altitude sickness. Her friends who were with her did all they could to get help to her in time.”

Ms. DeForest was hiking with three friends when the bout of altitude sickness affected her. After assembling a tent for Ms. DeForest to rest in, the three friends tried to decide what to do next. Shortly afterwards, two of the girls left the scene and attempted to find help. Two hours later, one of the girls was able to make contact with a local rescue team.

An Aspen Mountain Rescue helicopter was dispatched to the scene. However, treacherous weather conditions prevented a safe landing and a larger helicopter was requested. In the meantime, the rescue team attempted to revive Ms. DeForest’s non-responsive body. Several hours later, a second helicopter was able to reach Ms. DeForest. However, by the time it landed, the young student had passed away.

According to Anthony Todaro, a Deputy for the Pitkin County Sherriff’s Office, Ms. DeForest’s death had nothing to do with inadequate preparation. All three girls had taken adequate amounts of food and water and no drugs or alcohol were consumed during the hike. The hike to Conundrum Creek takes approximately 5 to 8 hours. According to alltrails.com, the path towards the creek is “almost entirely uphill” and “can be rocky and muddy but it is easy to follow and rated somewhere between moderate and difficult.”

Although Ms. DeForest did not appear to suffer from any prior medical conditions, the difficulty of the hike appears to have aggravated the severity of her altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is caused by reduced concentrations of oxygen at higher altitude levels and, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “can become fatal if the victim develops lung problems or has brain swelling.” Online commenters and social media users have rallied in support of Ms. DeForest’s family and the friends who were with her when she died.

The outpouring of sympathy has been reflected in online comments on the incident. One Daily Mail user, Olygirl86, personally related to the story, writing: “I had altitude sickness in aspen, Colorado several times…It is usually recommended to slowly adjust to changing attitudes, increase your fluid intake, and get extra rest. It is incredibly miserable, and hits you like a ton of bricks with terrible headache, instant nausea, and weakness from head to toe. I feel so bad for this beautiful young lady. May she rest in peace, and her family have some comfort knowing she passed doing something she was passionate about and brought her happiness.”

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Facebook

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