BELPRE - A memorial fund has been created to aid the family of Emily Spencer, the Belpre girl who died Wednesday following a short illness.
The Emily Spencer Memorial Fund was set up at Peoples Bank of Belpre on Thursday, according to Lori Spencer, the 16-year-old's aunt.
Monies collected through the fund will go to aid her family pay for funeral and medical expenses.
Emily Spencer, a sophomore at Belpre High School, passed away around 5 p.m. Wednesday after being taken off life support at St. Joseph's Hospital where she was being treated after suffering a suspected heart attack at her home on Monday morning, said Brian Harrell, pastor of Liberty Street Church of God in Parkersburg, who spoke on behalf of the family Wednesday.
Wil Helmick, Emily Spencer's stepfather, had tried to resuscitate her before EMS arrived.
Emily Spencer was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital where staff worked on her for two hours before getting a heart beat. By then, Harrell said, it seemed it was too late. Her body had suffered permanent brain damage from the lack of oxygen and around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday she was declared brain dead, he said.
Harrell added doctors indicated her sudden heart failure was likely due to a virus.
Later Wednesday evening, more than 200 of Emily Spencer's family, friends and community members met at Howes Grove Park for a candlelight vigil.
During the celebration of her young life, Helmick thanked the crowd for their prayers and love as he noted she would have been surprised to see how many people had gathered to remember her.
"It was so touching and comforting to her family and friends to see all of the people out to honor Em and support us at this time," Lori Spencer said via an e-mail to The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. "Times like these while devastating and sad restore your faith in humanity.
"It's wonderful to live in an area where there are so many caring people."