Six-Year-Old Oologah Girl Dies Following Illness

Tuesday, January 6th 2015, 11:08 am
By: Emory Bryan

A 6-year-old Oologah girl died Monday just hours after she was sent home sick from school. It sparked fears of a meningitis outbreak, but health workers say that's been ruled out. They're certain the death is not connected to a disease that can spread from person to person.

Family members told investigators the 6-year-old girl seemed normal Monday morning. Twelve hours later she was dead, with the only known problem a fever that was discovered at school. The girl's parents were on their way to a vacation in California when they were called about the girl's death.

Oologah Public Schools Superintendent Max Tanner says he was informed at 7:30 Tuesday morning that a family member of the child called to report the death.

"My heart goes out this this family, and we want them to know that we are praying for them and our hearts are broken," Tanner said. 

The school notified the health department and parents of the death.

Rogers County Health Department Director Maria Alexander says the hospital where the child died reports there is no evidence to support any diagnosis of a communicable disease. Alexander said there is no risk or danger to other students or staff at the school where the child was enrolled.

Health officials say they don't know yet why the girl died, but they are certain it is not bacterial meningitis.

Tanner sent out an automated call to parents, letting them know the student did not have a communicable disease, but confirmed that there has been a steady stream of parents taking their children out of classes.

"Till they find out the real reason, I'm not going to let my kids come back," said Oologah parent Michelle Rollette.

"They texted and called all the parents and told them if you want to get your children we understand, we won't count the absence and we understand if they don't come back."

The Health Department says that since the child's death was not caused by an illness that has to be reported, they don't expect to release any more information.Even though the only indications are of a medical condition, the Sheriff's office is now part of the investigation.

"A 6-year-old healthy child isn't someone who takes such a downward spiral so quick, so the nature of that is the reason the investigators were called out," said Chief Deputy Shane Rhames, Rogers County Sheriff's Office.

Rhames says he believes investigators won't know the cause for several weeks, until the medical examiners report is done.

"The only thing we can say is that bacterial meningitis is ruled out and there's nothing that shows any communicable disease, a hazard, at this time," he said.

The Rogers County Health Department said their information was definitive that there was no risk or danger to anyone.

But there are a lot of parents in Oologah are still worried tonight.