An Uvalde Mom Reports That Her Grieving Fourth Grader Nearly Suffered Cardiac Arrest

“Her body was basically reacting to the shock.”

Pallbearers carry the casket of Amerie Jo Garza to her burial site in Uvalde on May 31, 2022.Jae C. Hong/AP

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A fourth grader who survived the Uvalde school shooting in Texas has been hospitalized after she nearly went into cardiac arrest after her best friend’s memorial late last month, according to her mother, Jessica Treviño.

Illiana Treviño, 11, had gone to the memorial to leave a teddy bear and flowers for her friend Amerie Jo Garza, one of 19 children killed by the shooter at Robb Elementary on May 24. Before her death, Amerie, 10, had protected Illiana from bullies at school.

During the memorial, Illiana told her mother she wasn’t feeling well. Her heart rate began to spike and they went to a hospital, where, Treviño reported, doctors said Illiana been on the cusp of a heart attack. She remained hospitalized as of Thursday, according to People. “Her Heart can’t take the stress and trauma of the past week,” Illiana’s father wrote on a GoFundMe page raising money for the family’s expenses. “We are barely seeing the ripples side effects of what this tragic incident has brought to our community.” Treviño told People that her daughter had been otherwise healthy before the incident. 

Illiana is not the only one to experience heart problems after the school massacre. Two days after fourth-grade teacher Irma Garcia was killed during the shooting, her husband, Joe, died from a heart attack. “I truly believe Joe died of a broken heart and losing the love of his life of more than 25 years was too much to bear,” Irma Garcia’s relatives wrote on a GoFundMe page. The pair were buried alongside each other in twin brown caskets.

On the day of the shooting, Illiana hid in her classroom while the gunman walked by; she escaped without physical injuries. Amerie, in another room, was shot after she tried to dial 911 on her cellphone, according to her grandmother. The police stood outside the school for an hour waiting for backup.

When Illiana later saw her friend’s face flash across the news as one of the dead, “she just started screaming and crying,” Treviño told People. The day before the memorial, Illiana sobbed during a vigil she held with her parents for Amerie.

Illiana is no longer in the ICU and was transferred to a hospital in San Antonio. Doctors told her mother she is showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. “Her body was basically reacting to the shock,” Treviño told People, adding that her daughter is now terrified at the prospect of returning to class without her best friend. “Amerie made her feel safe and made her feel okay to go to school.”

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