Ashari Hughes, a 16-year-old high school student from Las Vegas, died on Thursday night, January 7, while playing flag football. In the middle of the game against Valley High School, she started having chest problems and went to the sidelines to rest, where she collapsed. The incident happened around 7:30 p.m.
Ashari Hughes attended Desert Oasis High School in Nevada, Las Vegas. Ian Salzman, the school’s principal sent an email to her parents where he wrote:
"staff immediately began providing medical aid and continued until paramedics arrived."
Salzman later added:
“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that the student passed away. The school and the entire district mourn the loss of this young life."
The Clark County Coroner’s office, which is currently investigating Ashari Hughes’ death, has not yet revealed the cause and manner of Ashari’s death.
However, a family member told a media outlet that Hughes was suffering from recurrent heart problems and was also seeing a cardiologist. They said that previously, the doctor gave her clearance to participate in sports, though her parents were considering pulling her out of it to re-examine her condition.
A fundraiser page has been created on GoFundMe to cover Ashari’s funeral and memorial expenses. A target of $50,000 has been set, among which $19,646 has been raised till now.
Ashari Hughes' parents claim football was the real love of her life
Ashari’s bereaved parents, Twayne and Enttroda Hughes, praised their deceased daughter as a loving, passionate, and determined person. On their GoFundMe page, they wrote:
"She was passionate, loving, and determined. She loved music, dancing, and being around all the people she loved. She called football the real love of her life! She loved hard and was loved by many."
Ashari’s parents said that 7 was her first football jersey number and she always aimed to represent it well. They added:
"Hold the #7 up high for her!"
Aphelia Phifer-Hill, the mother of one of Ashari’s teammates, made a post on Facebook regarding Ashari’s death and said that she rushed to the scene to perform CPR on Ashari. Aphelia wrote that Thursday was the first time in her 26 years of being a nurse that she had to do a cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a kid.
She added that everyone panicked when Ashari collapsed amidst the cold and rainy weather. Attempts at chest compressions and the use of an external defibrillator was made.
The post continued to say that Ashari’s family was not present at the game, but they eventually reached the scene while Ashari’s heart was still responding. But after being hospitalized and intubated, the teenager ultimately died. Aphelia finally said:
“Love your kids, you never know when death is coming.”
Another parent, Joel Scharer, whose daughter Alyssa is a junior at the school, said that nobody could anticipate that such a tragedy was going to take place since it was not tackle football, just flag football. Yet, no one had any idea that a kid would lose her life like that.
Marilyn Barnes, whose 15-year-old daughter, Ajah, was persuaded by Ashari Hughes to start playing flag football, said that Ashari was a beast on the field. She put her whole heart into every game she played. Outside the field, she was bubbly and always wore a smile on her face.
“It’s very scary because at the end of the day, we think of sports as a sport. We all have plans on what happens after the game, get the family home, have dinner and get the babies ready for school the next day. You just never think on that field or court that’s their last moment.”
Dr. Jesus F. Jara, the Superintendent of the Clark County District, issued a statement where he said:
“The loss of this young life deeply saddens us, and our thoughts are with the students’ friends, family and loved ones.”
435 donations have been made to Ashari Hughes' GoFundMe page so far. Many who knew the 16-year-old, commented remembering their last moments spent with her, or her last words spoken to them.