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8-year-old girl dies after falling ill on SkyWest flight

By Ehren Wynder
A SkyWest passenger jet bound from Missouri to Chicago was diverted to Peoria, Ill., after an 8-year-old girl suffered a medical emergency. File Photo courtesy SkyWest Airlines
A SkyWest passenger jet bound from Missouri to Chicago was diverted to Peoria, Ill., after an 8-year-old girl suffered a medical emergency. File Photo courtesy SkyWest Airlines

June 15 (UPI) -- Illinois authorities are investigating why an 8-year-old Missouri girl died after suffering a medical emergency on board a SkyWest Airlines flight to Chicago.

Sydney Weston of Carl Junction, Mo., was traveling with her family from Joplin, Mo., to Chicago when she "suddenly became ill and then unresponsive in flight," the Peoria County Coroner's Office said in a statement. SkyWest Airlines confirmed that the child was aboard flight 5121, operating as United Express, to Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Thursday.

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The coroner's officer said the girl's family immediately alerted airline staff of her condition, and they began rendering aid.

The flight was re-routed to Peoria, Ill. When the plane landed, paramedics were on site to tend to the passenger.

"We appreciate the efforts of our crewmembers who responded quickly to assist and the medical personnel who met the aircraft," a SkyWest spokesperson said in a statement.

Weston was transported to OSF Healthcare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where she was pronounced dead at 8:05 a.m.

A preliminary autopsy on Friday to determine the cause of Weston's death was inconclusive, but authorities said they found no signs of abuse or neglect.

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The coroner's office said additional tests will be conducted, and results might be available in four to six weeks.

"Once we have those tests completed, it is our hope that we will be able to provide a definitive and exact cause of death for this little girl and give her family some answers," the coroner's office said.

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