NRHS student dies at 15

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2005

On Saturday afternoon, Alecia Richards was busy studying for Nansemond River High’s upcoming SOL tests. An honor student and member of the school’s National Honor Society, the sophomore Lady Warrior pored over her schoolbooks, determined to do well on some of the most important tests of a student’s education career.

Less than 24 hours later, the 15-year-old was gone forever.

A member of the River flag team, which entertained the crowd at Warrior football games on fall Friday nights, Alecia had stayed home from school Thursday, suffering from a cold. She’d felt much better Friday, but had complained of a headache early Saturday, and taken an aspirin.

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On Saturday evening, Alecia told her mother Ann-Marie that she had a stomachache, and was unable to sleep through the night. Early Sunday morning, she got up and took a bath. Sitting on a chair, Alecia fainted, according to her mother.

Just after 8 a.m., Alecia and Ann-Marie arrived at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. With her daughter unable to walk, Ann-Marie went inside and got a wheelchair, and pushed Alecia into the waiting room, where Alecia collapsed onto the floor.

A team of medics came and got her, and took her to another room, where Alecia was revived. Soon after, she went into cardiac arrest, and was given CPR and a blood transfusion, which resuscitated her again.

She was taken to the operating room, where her heart stopped again. This time, she couldn’t be revived. Early indications show that she had an enlarged heart, although final autopsy results won’t be available for several more weeks.

&uot;It’s very difficult,&uot; said Dwight, looking at a photo of his only daughter. &uot;Alecia always seemed to be a person that was a peacemaker, a uniter. Everyone could come and talk to her, and she could talk to anyone.

&uot;Sometimes we break down,&uot; he said, &uot;but we have friends, family, phone calls, and visits, and these things have been able to keep us going. We’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the things she’s done and the fun times we had.&uot;

Alecia hoped to attended Norfolk State, Hampton or Old Dominion University, and one day become a criminal defense attorney.

&uot;Some place in this, there’s a lesson,&uot; Dwight said. &uot;The realization we brought home is that you can never tell your children enough how much they mean to you, how much you love them, and how much they matter.

&uot;When I was leaving (for Baltimore), the last thing she ever said to me was ‘I love you, Dad. Tell Grandmom I love her, and to get well.’&uot;

Alecia’s funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Grove Baptist Church on West Norfolk Road in Portsmouth, with interment immediately following at the Green Lawn Memorial Gardens on Airline Boulevard in Chesapeake.