Tinley Park teenager dies from COVID-19 days after diagnosis; family plans funeral

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Sarah Simental was supposed to graduate from Lincoln Way East in Frankfort in a few months, instead her family is planning her funeral.

The normally healthy teen died from COVID-19 the day after Christmas.

"I took her to get tested on that Saturday morning and by Saturday night she was positive but she kept adding on new symptoms," said her mother, Deborah Simental.

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Sarah Simental's parents say she had no other health problems, and still, the virus took her life at such a young age.

Her mother said she replays the tragic timeline of the last week.

"There was vomiting, and that she was getting the chills, and the body aches," said Simental.

Two days before Christmas, the 18-year-old was admitted to Silver Cross Hospital. Her symptoms got worse fast.

Later, airlifted to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where doctors tried to save Sarah's life.

"I know she fought because one of the last times I was able to talk to her on the phone, they were taking her from the regular room to ICU and she said 'I am going to be OK, mom,' and that was the last thing," said Simental.

She did not make it.

"She went into cardiac arrest, she had a brain bleed, it was deteriorating her kidneys, it just ate her through," said Simental. "No parent should ever have to watch their child go through that. Nobody."

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The Bruno family hopes their story serves as a tale of caution for those who want to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones.

Sarah had not been out of the house very much so her mom is not sure how she contracted the virus.

The teen was spending more time at home during the pandemic with her family and her dog Bailey.

Her family shares an important message.

"Please take this coronavirus seriously," said her father Don Simental.

The funeral will be held Wednesday at Lawn Funeral Home in Orland Park. Instead of flowers, her family is asking for donations to P.A.W.S. of Tinley Park where Sarah spent a lot of her time.
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