MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - A 16-year-old girl collapsed at a haunted house attraction in southwest Ohio and died of a heart abnormality.
Christian Faith Benge had only one working lung due to a birth defect, and her heart apparently became enlarged as a result, said her mother. The Warren County coroner, Dr. Russell Uptegrove, found that there was "significant abnormality." He said there were no signs of trauma and no drugs were involved.
The coroner said it's difficult to determine whether fear played a role.
"That's the $20 million question," Uptegrove told The Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday. "It's something we may never know for sure, but because her death involved heart problems, the fear in places like that could have pushed her over the edge, so to speak. ... But I can't say that definitively."
The girl was part of a large group visiting the Land of Illusion in Middletown on Friday evening. She collapsed while going through one of the attraction's multiple haunted houses and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Jean Benge said she performed CPR on her daughter until paramedics arrived and "trusted God." The girl was active in her church, she said.
"He has an ultimate plan," she said. "It was just time."
She called Christian "the sweetest, most generous, kind-hearted, loving person."
Land of Illusion's owner called it "a very unfortunate situation." The popular attraction dates back years and features characters depicting ghouls, killer clowns and zombies.