CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban teacher and avid Cubs fan has died following a choking accident while at the game on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
Maureen Oleskiewicz was with her brother when she began choking on a hot dog and collapsed.
The 28-year-old teacher at Independence Junior High in Palos Heights was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital. She was kept alive until Tuesday so that doctors could harvest her organs for donation, family members told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The incident happened before the game started. She was given CPR at the field and then transported by ambulance to Illinois Masonic.
However, she never recovered.
“There is no magic wand to fix what we cannot comprehend,” District 128 Supt. Kathleen Casey wrote in a letter to parents. “Maureen had a positive impact on countless students, parents and … colleagues. Her vibrant, positive outlook on life and her joyful nature will be missed more than words can convey.”
The Chicago Cubs issued a statement on Wednesday: “The Chicago Cubs are saddened to hear news of the untimely death of Maureen Oleskiewicz. We express our deepest sympathy to her family and friends. We will continue to keep her family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
CBS 2’S Marissa Bailey talked with her family about their daughter, her life and the lives she continues to touch.
“She was beyond special,” said her mother.
Her parents explained how Maureen and her younger brother Martin went to the Cubs – Reds game Sunday and like many people – got a hot dog and beer.
“They were watching the action on the field, sitting next to each other and all of a sudden Martin said she was on the floor. And he said ‘what are you doing? Get up!’ And she was totally out of it. She had no pulse.
Maureen choked on the hot dog — before the first pitch was even thrown.
“She had a single digit chance of recovering and even then it would be in a vegetative state,” said her mother.
Her parents say they always knew their little girl touched many lives but unbeknownst to family Maureen opted years ago — to donate her organs, the ultimate act of giving.
“2 kidneys went to two different people. Her heart went to a 14 -year old and so even in death she’s still giving,” said her mother. “We have an angel upstairs watching over us now.”
“By this gift — she just put an exclamation point on her life,” said her father.
Maureen taught 6th and 7th grade language arts for five years.
Her parents told us tonight she learned best from teachers who made lessons fun. They say Maureen would regularly “rap” the vocabulary words to help her students remember them.