LIBERTY — Students and school staff are mourning the loss of a beloved classmate who died over the weekend from an apparent case of viral meningitis.
Olivia Shugars, 17, would have been a senior at Casey County High School this year, but she never got the chance to start the school year due to the illness.
Curt Demrow with McKinney-Brown Funeral Home in Liberty, which is handling the funeral arrangements, said Shugars had been sick for a couple of weeks before taking a turn for the worse on Friday of last week. Demrow said by Saturday afternoon she was on life support at the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington where she was pronounced dead at 4 p.m that day.
The loss came as a shock to Shugars’ many friends and teammates.
Principal Barry Lee said the daughter of John and Melissa Shugars was a well-liked student who was active in sports and a number of extracurricular activities. She was a member of the volleyball and softball teams, Future Farmers of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was set to co-edit the yearbook.
“It was a very emotional weekend for everyone here,” Lee said. “Olivia was an amazing young lady in so many ways, just a top-notch student and person. You couldn’t ask for anything more. It is really just devastating.”
Lee said school was opened up for classmates to gather over the weekend and counselors will be on hand to meet with students this week.
The school also will be the setting for a funeral service that is expected to bring a large part of the community together to pay their respects. Visitation is 5-9 p.m. today at McKinney-Brown Funeral Home in Liberty and 8 a.m. until a 4:44 p.m. funeral Wednesday to be held in the high school gymnasium.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meningitis is an inflammation of membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Dr. Christine Weyman said in most cases viral meningitis is a milder form unless it leads to another viral disorders.
Unlike bacterial meningitis, for which measures can be taken to prevent or stop the spread of the disease, there is not much that can be done about viral meningitis, Weyman said.