Police probe teen’s death

East freshman had chronic genetic condition

Columbus police and the Bartholomew County Coroner’s office are investigating the death of a 14-year-old Columbus East High School freshman.

Shaylynne Sky Hill, 14, of Columbus, was pronounced dead in the Columbus Regional Hospital emergency department at 12:28 a.m. Wednesday, Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting said.

The girl was at a friend’s house Tuesday night when she became ill, Columbus Police Lt. Jay Frederick said. Columbus police said an ambulance was sent to a residence in the 1800 block of Jolinda Drive at 11:31 p.m. Tuesday after residents there called 911.

An autopsy was conducted Thursday morning at Columbus Regional Hospital, and toxicology results are expected in the next two to three weeks, Frederick said. Until then, the circumstances and cause of death remain under investigation, he said.

The coroner’s office has learned through its investigation that the teen had a chronic genetic condition called Alpha-1, Frederick said. Alpha-1 is defined by the Alpha-1 Foundation as an antitrypsin deficiency which may result in serious lung disease or liver disease.

Hill had transferred to Columbus East this semester after spending her first semester of high school at Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech, said Larry Perkinson, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. employee and student assistance coordinator. She had attended Taylorsville Elementary School and Northside Middle School, he said.

When talking to the principals at those schools, Perkinson said each described Hill as a bright young lady who was a caring person.

“They said she always put others ahead of herself and that she just loved people,” Perkinson said.

Hill enjoyed drawing, music and art and spending time with her friends, according to her obituary.

School officials asked Perkinson to convey that they are keeping the Hill family in their thoughts and prayers.

Services are planned at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.