Family devastated after ‘perfectly healthy’ 18-year-old dies of COVID-19

One Chicago-area mother is warning people to stay home after her “perfectly healthy” teenage daughter died just three days after being hospitalized for the coronavirus.

Sarah Simental of Tinley Park, Illinois, a town about 15 miles southwest of Chicago, had turned 18 last month and had been taking all the recommended precautions, her mother, Deborah Simental told NBC Chicago.

“I truly have no idea how she contracted it,” she said. Sarah had only seen her immediate family and boyfriend, who tested negative.

Sarah Simental with her family before her death.WMAQ

Sarah first started showing symptoms on Dec. 16 and by late Dec. 18, she started vomiting and having chills. The first thing the next morning, her mom said, they got a COVID-19 test and it came back positive for Sarah. Deborah Simental never tested positive.

When Sarah started having severe pain in her left shoulder, they went to the hospital at the recommendation of her pediatrician. Three days later, on Dec. 26, Sarah died at the University of Chicago hospital with her parents by her side. She’d had a series of mini-strokes and went into cardiac arrest, Deborah Simental said, and then had a brain bleed on both sides.

“They did what they could but it took her,” she said, adding Sarah had no underlying conditions. “A perfectly healthy 18-year-old girl.”

Sarah Simental.WMAQ

“I know she fought hard, my daughter was a fighter. But it just wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough,” she said with tears in her eyes. “It just took over. And it took her from all of us.”

Now Deborah Simental hopes her daughter’s story will serve as a cautionary tale to people as the COVID-19 vaccine slowly rolls out around the country.

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“Please wear your masks, do your social distancing,” she said. “There will be more holidays, more birthdays… you have them again. This took my daughter and we’re not going to be able to have those again.”

“The last words she said to me were, ‘Mom, it’s gonna be OK,’” Deborah Simental said, emotional. “She told me it would be OK — it will be OK. She will always be with us and it will be OK.”

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