Autopsy: Death of teacher at Wrigley Field was accident - New York News

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Autopsy: Death of teacher at Wrigley Field was accident

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A southwest suburban middle school teacher who died after choking on a hot dog prior to Sunday's game at Wrigley Field was killed by a lack of oxygen to the brain caused by choking on food and intoxication, an autopsy has ruled.

Maureen Oleskiewicz was such an avid fan of Chicago sports that she instituted spirit days for students to dress up in support of local teams, including her beloved Cubs, Blackhawks and Bears.

SEE: Teacher killed in choking accident at Wrigley Field

On Sunday, the 28-year-old was with her brother at Wrigley Field, but never got to see the first pitch, according to her family and authorities.

Oleskiewicz and her brother Martin, were enjoying a pre-game lunch when she fell to the floor choking, according to her mother.

"They're sitting there eating lunch before the game, looking at the field and the next thing she's on the floor," Margaret Oleskiewicz said. "He didn't even know she was in distress and then she's on the floor."

Oleskiewicz went into cardiac arrest and never recovered, despite efforts to revive her, her mother said.

She was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she was kept alive until 9:10 a.m. Tuesday—long enough to donate her organs in a final act of kindness, her mother said.

An autopsy on Thursday found she died of anoxic encephalopathy (lack of oxygen to the brain), asphyxiation and choking on a chewed piece of food, with ethanol intoxication a contributing factor, the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said. The death was ruled an accident.

The elder Oleskiewicz said she was told her daughter's "big, giving heart" went to a 14-year-old girl in desperate need of one. Hospital officials could not confirm this due to federal privacy laws.

"Even in death she was so kind and good," Margaret Oleskiewicz said.

News of the death rocked Independence Junior High, where the popular teacher and former student taught 6th and 7th grade language arts.

A Tuesday night vigil filled the Incarnation Catholic Parish in Palos Heights to capacity. And at an impromptu memorial afterwards, a crush of students lit candles and laid flowers outside her classroom, according to her mother.

In a statement, Cubs' spokesman Julian Green said the organization was saddened to learn of Oleskiewicz's death.

"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," the statement said.

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