Parents of teen who died after Shamrock Half-Marathon speak out

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The parents of a teenager who died after finishing the Shamrock Half-Marathon Sunday spoke to media Monday about their daughter’s story, one which they described as inspirational and positive.

Ed Brazle with the Virginia Beach Department of Medical Services said a 16-year-old girl completed the race around 9:30 a.m., but didn’t feel well, collapsed at the finish line, and was rushed to a nearby medical tent. She was taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, where she passed away.

WAVY News’ Jason Marks learned the girl’s name is Cameron Gallagher, and that she is from Richmond.

Photo courtesy Gallagher Family
Photo courtesy Gallagher Family

On Monday, Gallagher’s family said Cameron finished the race with her best friend, Abby Donelson in 2:19 minutes. The two trained together for nine weeks prior to the race and were by each others’s side the whole way.

“Cameron finished and collapsed approximately 50 yards from the finish line,” said David Gallagher, Cameron’s father. “She immediately lost her heartbeat and was taken to a medical tent where numerous medical attendants attempted to help her heart regain a rhythm. 15 minutes later she was transported by ambulance to Virginia Beach General Hospital where a large team of doctors, nurses and assistants worked for over 45 minutes to save Cameron’s life. Ultimately, her heart would not restart and she passed away at approximately 11 a.m.”

Gallagher’s parents, Grace and David, said Cameron finished the race with an “ear-to-ear smile.” The two were by her side from the moment she collapsed, “loving her and supporting her next journey.”

David Gallagher released the flowing statement on behalf of their family:

We miss our sweet Cameron so much. Grace and I are so appreciative of her inspiration to our entire family. She set a goal and completed it with a smile as she did with so many accomplishments in her short life. Grace and I were given a gift to be with her during her accomplishment and we were with her in end. The entire community has been so supportive and we are so thankful for your prayers and thoughts. Please use Cameron’s story as an inspiration to set goals, overcome obstacles and fight the good fight. She did that every day. We love you so Cameron. Grace and I ask everyone to reflect on Timothy Chapter 4 verse 7 “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish: I have kept the faith.”

Family members said they are not sure of the exact cause of death, but believe it to be cardiac related.

Cameron GallagherThousands of runners crossed the finish line Sunday at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Kelly Gdovic of Yorktown was just 20 seconds behind Gallagher, heading towards the end of the 13.1 mile run.

“As soon as I crossed the finish line she was down on the ground, appeared to be unconscious and the race officials were tending to her,” said Gdovic. “I just wanted to clear that area. I knew they had to get her out of that area. It was backlogging people coming across the finish line which was going to cause more danger, so I just scooted around as quickly as possible.”

As crews worked to save the girl’s life, Gdovic remembers seeing her one last time: “People were yelling to clear a hole and they were just literally running with her. She appeared to be still unconscious on the stretcher and they were just running.”

A Virginia Beach EMS spokesperson said they had 80 crew members scattered around the course in case of an emergency.

“You’re never alone on a course,” said Gdovic. “There is always somebody, almost at every corner monitoring the racers.”

Brazle released the following statement Monday about the EMS presence at the race:

Photo courtesy Gallagher Family
Photo courtesy Gallagher Family

A large EMS presence was on standby throughout the weekend’s race events. For the marathon and half marathons, over 80 emergency medical personnel were deployed using ambulances, golf carts, bicycles and foot patrols. At one time, 14 ambulances were on site, 12 from the Rescue Squads of Virginia Beach and 2 from the Navy Mid-Atlantic Regional Fire Department. Medical tents staffed by physicians, nurses and allied professionals were also available along the race route. EMS crews evaluated 19 patients Sunday, transporting 4 of them to the hospital. An unknown number of additional patients self-reported to the medical tents for assistance.

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