Dallas high school student unexpectedly dies; family believes it was flu-related

A junior at Bishop Lynch Catholic High School in Dallas died and it may have been from the flu. The news brought hundreds of people to the school to remember her.

At just 16 years old, Reese Termulo had her whole life ahead of her. But on Friday, her family believes she died as a result of the flu.

“Her personality radiated warmth. She was just a genuine, caring, kind, and loving person, and really people gravitated towards her because of that,” said Chris Rebuck, president of Bishop Lynch High School.

The school’s president said Reese was a member of the drill and dance team. A hard-working student who was already touring colleges, like the University of Notre Dame.

“We felt it very necessary as a faith community to come together to provide an opportunity to begin the grieving process, to pray,” Rebuck said.

Hundreds from the school’s family came to pray for Reese’s family on Saturday.

Her father, who is a doctor, said Reese took a shower Friday night, went back into bed, and 30 minutes later, her heart stopped beating.

“The truth about our humanity is that there is suffering,” Rebuck said.

Dallas County Health and Human Services officials have said they’ve seen an increase in flu activity this season. At least six people have died from it, and the teenager's death is one of several possible flu deaths still awaiting confirmation. 

Related: Dallas County reports its 6th flu-related death of the season

The health department partnered with a number of groups to give free flu shots at Cristo Rey College Prep on Sunday.

“I think people tend to minimize what can happen with the flu,” said Kavita Bhavan, associate professor of infectious diseases at UT Southwestern Parkland Hospital.

The event was organized by a number of the school’s students.

“So my parents used to say that the flu shot was ineffective and that it actually caused the flu,” student Paola Gallardo said.

Gallardo didn’t know Reese but said her death shows the flu can affect anyone.

“It makes me more aware for my friends and family members,” he said. “The flu can kill. It is something that we can prevent.”

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas said Reese had her flu shot. Dallas County health officials said the vaccine typically lessens the severity of flu complications.

For now, those at Reese’s school said they’ll continue to show her family love. It’s all her father asked for when speaking with them just one day after losing his daughter.

“They wanted to be there. They wanted to be surrounded by community,” Rebuck added. “It is with our faith that we’re able to kind of continue our belief that there’s hope after death."