A popular 17-year-old Tempe charter school student died Wednesday at a Valley hospital after she was found unconscious on the floor of a school restroom.
Police said Erin DeVito wasn’t feeling well during an assembly at James Madison Preparatory charter school, located on McClintock Drive south of Baseline Road, and excused herself.
When DeVito did not return, someone went to look for the teen and found her unconscious on the restroom floor about 9:30 a.m., officials said.
“It’s our understanding she had a pre-existing health condition and it is likely she passed away as a result of that condition,” said Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Mike Horn.
DeVito suffered from a degenerative condition that affects multiple organs, including the heart, Horn said.
“It’s one of those things where you never know for certain when this could happen,” he added.
When fire officials responded to the school, they found De-Vito unresponsive. Bystanders had begun CPR, said Tempe Fire Inspector Phil Rohe.
Paramedics took the girl to Desert Samaritan Medical Center, where she later died.
Those who knew DeVito said she was a positive person, involved in horse competitions and soccer. Horn said staff at her school described her as a “ray of sunshine.”
A tearful Tina DeVito said her daughter had been attending the charter school since seventh grade and “loved it.”
Seventh-grader Kaitlin Burnam said she broke down upon learning of her friend’s death.
“She was always nice, always asked how you were doing, always smiling,” Kaitlin said.
According to police, DeVito’s family was open with the school about her condition and always made sure the teen was involved in different activities.
“From what they said, there’s definitely going to be a significant void at the school with her passing,” Horn said.
James Madison Preparatory, which had just reopened after fall break, closed early Wednesday, and the campus was empty by 2 p.m.
Tribune freelance writer Krystal Marceau contributed to this report.