High School Star Athlete Dies After Her Heart Stops While Swimming in Missouri Pool

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.


A 17-year-old Missouri teen has died after she was pulled from a subdivision swimming pool Friday night.

The victim was Emma Aronson. According to family members who set up an online funding campaign to help with medical and funeral expenses, the teen was swimming when her heart stopped.

"She was racing in the pool and got to the edge and said in a very small voice, 'I'm so tired.' And that was it," her heartbroken mother, Laura Aronson, said. "Her best friends tried to save her life, but there was nothing they could do. It was nobody's fault."

Emergency room doctors advised her family that she likely died of heart arrhythmia, but what caused her heart rate to malfunction isn't known. Emma was a star athlete with no history of heart problems.

Those who knew Emma said she was a talented and competitive athlete about to enter her senior year at Lee's Summit High School as a varsity basketball player. She was known for her wit and enjoyment in making people laugh.

"She was the most beautiful daughter anybody could ever ask for," her mother said. "Every second of every day she made people smile. She was encouraging."

Her younger sister, Ellie, said Emma was a "big prankster," who was a friend to her.

Emergency crews were called about 9:45 p.m. Friday to a swimming pool in the Oak Ridges subdivision in the 400 block of Northeast Anderson Drive.

When Lee's Summit police arrived on the scene, they found the unconscious teen, who had been pulled from the pool by her friends and received first aid.

Paramedics rushed the teen to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office is performing an autopsy.

Dr. Steve Laurer, associate chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Hospital, said sudden heart failure in teens is rare but does occur. He said a strong, athletic heart can have an underlying problem with its electrical system.

He said pay close attention to family histories especially if someone in the family had their heart stop when they were younger than 55 years old. Laurer said don't disregard a fainting spell.

"It's the ones who have fainted or felt like they were going to faint while they were exercising that are especially the ones we want to pay attention to and identify," Laurer said.

Emma's faith in God was very important to her. She was active in Abundant Life Church in Lee's Summit where her funeral will be held.

"She was on fire for God," her mother said. "She loved the Lord. She was very passionate about helping other teens, leading them to Christ."

Her family told WDAF on Monday that Emma wanted to be a nurse and save lives, and she’s just doing it earlier than many had hoped.

"She is doing that through transplant. We know that she will help at least 50 people," Aronson said.

The teen's mother added: "There was nothing that could have been done but parents just love your children. Tell them you love them every day."