9th grader who died of meningitis remembered - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

9th grader who died of meningitis remembered

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Kind words Saturday about a Patrick Henry High School freshman who died from an apparent case of meningitis.

Jewelean Pimentel passed away Thursday night just two days after getting sick.

Saturday, the star cheerleader is being remembered as a talented young girl with a bright smile.

Jewelean's family released a statement saying in part, "The illness moved devastatingly quickly. Jewelean complained of a headache after school Tuesday; her parents took her to the hospital early Wednesday morning and she died Thursday night at Rady's Children's Hospital."

The family has no idea how she became infected. No one else in the family is ill -- adding that Jewelean received regular check ups and was up to date on her vaccinations.

Brendan Mathews, a choreographer at Cheerforce in El Cajon, says his cheer family is in utter shock about the sudden death of one of their own.

"She's just the girl that made you smile," Mathews said.

Jewelean, a standout cheerleader at Patrick Henry High School, died Thursday after contracting meningitis.

Her cheer coach says she last saw the 9th grade student on Tuesday during practice.

"She just said coach I'm not feeling that great and I said, 'ok honey you don't have to participate,'" Cheerforce co-owner Jennifer Long said.

Tuesday night Jewel was taken to the hospital.

"Her mom and I were in contact for the past two days...just giving me updates. She updated me on Thursday saying that she was stable and that it was the best she had been doing all day," Long said.  

But then things took a devastating turn for the high school freshman.

"You never anticipate for an athlete to say that they don't feel well and then two days later she's no longer with us...in my 20 years of coaching that's never happened," Long said.

Jennifer Long says Jewel had raw talent coming into Cheerforce and was quickly placed on a higher level team.

Her infectious smile lit up the room.

"Aways so positive...we're tough coaches here at Cheerforce and tough love is something that we practice quite a bit, and she took it all with a smile," Brendan Mathews said.

Brendan says the biggest heartbreak is for Jewel's baby sister Jorja who followed in her sister's footsteps. Little Jorja's cheer squad released green balloons in honor of her big sister.

"Her team practiced yesterday, she was not here, but we signed balloons for her with messages and all the little kids were excited that she was going to read them in heaven," Mathews said.

Cheerforce was Jewel's second family -- with two major upcoming cheer competitions, they say they are now dedicating their season to her.

Honoring and remembering a young girl that taught them to find strength from with in.

"We all know Jewel would want us to be just as vibrant and happy," Mathews said.

The family says tests are being done to determine whether or not she died due to meningitis.

The-14-year-old freshman is from a very close knit family. The oldest of four children. Her family says they are thankful for the overwhelming support.

The family is in need of financial support as they grieve the loss of their daughter. If you would like to help the family with any expenses surrounding this tragedy, CLICK HERE>>.

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