Officials: 6th-grader's death not due to anything contagious

The death of a White Pines Middle School student on Sunday "is not related to a contagious event,' said Superintendent Keith Konarska in a letter to parents of Grand Haven Area Public Schools students on Monday.
Becky Vargo
Feb 28, 2012

 

“We’ve been in contact with the (Ottawa County) Health Department throughout (the day),” he said. “It is definitely not” (a contagious event).

Sixth-grader Shelby Hardebeck, daughter of Todd and Kristen Hardebeck, died unexpectedly Sunday following a brief illness, the superintendent said.

“We are deeply saddened,” Konarska said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hardebeck family.”

The school district’s crisis team met early Monday and was on-site all day to support students and staff, Konarska said. Parents should contact their child’s building administrator if they feel their child is in need of support.

“Shelby was an outstanding student who was well-liked by all,” Konarska said.

Shelby was also a member of the Shoreline Lightning Swim Club, which practiced at the Spring Lake Aquatic & Fitness Center in Spring Lake Township.

Her coach, Rich Riopelle, said Shelby was her “normal happy self” at practice on Thursday. He said he was surprised when Shelby’s mom called him Saturday morning to say that her daughter was sick and would not be able to swim in the district swim meet that weekend.

Saturday evening, Riopelle said he received an e-mail from the family saying that Shelby was still sick and would not be able to join her team on Sunday either.

“She said Shelby was upset she couldn’t make it to the meet,” Riopelle said.

“I got a call yesterday that she had passed away,” he said quietly on Monday.

Riopelle said he understood that parents in the community were concerned about their own children catching something contagious, but that an autopsy has ruled that out.

“Nothing is more difficult to comprehend or deal with emotionally than the loss of a child,” Riopelle said in an e-mail to parents of his swimmers. “Our very deepest sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the Hardebeck family.”

Riopelle said a team meeting was held late Monday afternoon at the aquatic center, with grief counselors from Grand Haven and Spring Lake schools in attendance. A one-hour special swim practice dedicated to Shelby followed the meeting.

Shelby was born in Rochester Hills to Todd and Kristen (Parkhurst) Hardebeck. She is survived by her parents; four brothers: Jack, Gabriel, Maverick and Finley Hardebeck, all at home; her grandparents: M. Carol Parkhurst-Ondo of Painesville, Ohio, Tom (Janet) Parkhurst of Concord, Ohio, and Bill (Bonny) Hardebeck of Grand Haven; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

The service for Shelby will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grand Haven. Friends may meet the family 5-8 p.m. Thursday at the church. Interment will be in Lake Forest Cemetery.

 

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