WEST HAVEN, Utah — A 19-year-old Roy High School graduate and Western Nebraska Community College soccer player died Wednesday night from an E. coli infection while serving an LDS mission in Argentina.
Brittany Nicole Scadlock was 10 days from her 20th birthday.
"We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Sister Brittany Nicole Scadlock," LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said. "Sister Scadlock began serving her mission in the Argentina Resistencia Mission in August 2014, and is from the Kanesville Utah Stake. She passed away Wednesday evening from complications related to an illness.
"We extend our love and prayers to her family and all who knew her as they mourn her passing."
A family spokesman said her infection moved quickly.
"We found out just a few days ago that she was having some problems," said her aunt, Kally Scadlock. "Initially they thought it was appendicitis. After doing some tests, it was determined that she had E. coli in her intestinal system. She wasn't able to fight it off, and she went into cardiac arrest."
She was transferred from her mission to a hospital in Buenos Aires, where she died.
E. coli does not always cause an infection. Most strains are harmless. A small percentage of infections result in death.
"We don't know how she got E. coli at this time," Kally Scadlock said. "There's a lot we don't know yet."
The missionary's parents, Terry and Nicole Scadlock, were in Los Angeles to get passports on their way to be with Brittany when they learned she had died. They returned to Utah Thursday morning.
"Brittany was a ray of sunshine," Kally Scadlock said. "She has the softest heart and loves everyone. That sounds ... I'm not trying to sound any more than she really is. She truly was the best person you could ever imagine. She was a light, and everywhere she went she left light."
Church officials were making arrangements to have Scadlock's body sent home to Utah, Kally Scadlock said.
“The death of a young missionary is a tragic time for the family and for all those who love them, and the church seeks to ensure that there are no financial concerns that make the mourning process more difficult," Hawkins said. "When a missionary is injured or becomes ill and then passes away, the church covers the costs of medical treatment and transportation, return of the deceased to their home and funeral expenses. Families may choose to supplement what the church provides to personalize the funeral at their own discretion.”
The second of four children in a soccer-loving family, Scadlock graduated from Roy High School in 2013 and earned a scholarship to play for Western Nebraska that fall. Women's soccer coach Todd Rasnic expressed shock and disbelief on Thursday.
"It's a tragedy," he said. "She was full of life and a great kid."
Scadlock told Rasnic she planned to return to the team after her mission, which she was expected to complete in February 2016. He learned of her death when he woke Thursday morning to find a text message from a parent of another player.
Western Nebraska is on spring break this week, so Rasnic texted his players.
"Everybody's sad," he said, adding "she was a tough kid. She played injured. She loved the game."
Scadlock worked her way into Western Nebraska's starting lineup as a freshman. She scored five goals and contributed three assists for the Cougars during the 2013 season.
Many of his players come to the team with a lot of problems, Rasnic said, but Scadlock was well-disciplined and he never had to worry about her. She made the dean's list in both semesters she was at the school.
"I'm at a loss trying to figure it all out," he said. "Whenever we lose any student, but especially one of good character and one I would consider of high moral fiber, it's disappointing. It feels like a life with a lot of potential was cut short."
Scadlock felt moved to serve a mission while listening to LDS general conference talks.
"She loved her mission and she loved the people," Kally Scadlock said. "She was so excited to serve. She was doing what she loved, so we know she died doing what she loved, serving the Lord."
The LDS Church says its missionaries are safer than their peers, citing World Health Organization statistics that find approximately 205 deaths per 100,000 young people. The rate among missionaries is 1/20th of that figure.
Kally Scadlock said one of the messages missionaries share is that Latter-day Saints believe families can be together forever, and that is a belief that is helping the Scadlocks today.
"They are a very close-knit family. They are each others' best friends. They have a very strong testimony of the Savior and His plan. They are doing the best they can considering the situation. Obviously, they are grieving and trying to process what has happened, but the entire family is finding comfort in knowing that we will see her again."
Brittany Scadlock's Facebook page today became a memorial to her.
The post of another of her aunts, Angie Rich Green, captured both sadness and faith.
"I'm heartbroken and beyond disbelief... I know God lives and she is with him! She was doing exactly what she was meant to do. And my heart still hurts! Brittany, I love you beyond words. Thank you for serving and being such an example to us all. Until we meet again beautiful girl!! XOXO."