Healthy 18-year-old Illinois girl dies of COVID-19: 'You need to take it seriously'

A suburban high school senior, with no underlying health conditions, lost her life to COVID-19 after just three days in the hospital.

Sarah Simental was 18-years-old and about to graduate from Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort. Her mother Deborah says Sarah was an animal lover, adored her dog Bailey, and was healthy.

Sarah came down with a slight headache on December 16th. One week later, the Tinley Park teen had body aches and chills and was admitted to Silver Cross Hospital where she needed oxygen.

Sarah Simental

"I said, ‘Pumpkin, everything is going to be okay,’ because she was very sad that she knew she was not going to be home for Christmas," said Deborah Simental about speaking with her daughter. She says Sarah replied, "’Mom, it's going to be okay. And that was my last conversation with my daughter."

On Christmas Day, Sarah was airlifted to University of Chicago Medical Center and died the next day. Her parents were at her side.

"No parent should have to see that, or go through that and no child should have to go through that," said Deborah, who explained her daughter was requiring more than 100 percent oxygen. The coronavirus had created a bacterial infection and was deteriorating her kidneys.

Sarah Simental

This is Deborah's message to us all.

"You're going to have a Thanksgiving, you're going to have a birthday, and my daughter, along with hundreds of thousands of other people are not going to have those things with their family members anymore. You need to take it seriously," said Deborah, who adds she doesn’t know where her daughter caught the virus as no one else in the family tested positive.


Services for Sarah Simental are Wednesday at the Lawn Funeral Home in Orland Park. The family asks in lieu of flowers, make donations to P.A.W.S of Tinley Park.