Amid an outpouring of condolences, a Chester County couple continues an anguished wait for an explanation for their daughter's death earlier this week at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where she was a freshman.
Kristen Dickmann, 19, a 2007 graduate of Unionville High School, was found unconscious Monday morning by her roommates and rushed to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Her parents, Carrie and Douglas Dickmann, of Kennett Square, said an autopsy was inconclusive. The star volleyball player was in excellent health, they said, and in excellent spirits.
It is not their first agonizing search for answers.
On Monday, Carrie Dickmann, a teacher in the gifted program at Unionville High, received an e-mail from the mother of one of Kristen's friends, extending prayers after Kristen had been rushed to the hospital, said Rob Conti-D'Antonio, a colleague and Kristen's former volleyball coach.
Conti-D'Antonio said he was with Carrie Dickmann when she spoke with the mother and then began frantically making phone calls to find out what happened.
"It took about half an hour," said Conti-D'Antonio, Unionville's dean of student life. "Half an hour of not knowing and 10 to 15 phone calls. It was excruciating."
According to the Web site for the Maryland chief medical examiner, an inconclusive autopsy necessitates additional testing. Repeated telephone calls to the medical examiner's office were not returned. However, Jennie Erickson, a Naval Academy spokesperson, said "the results of a medical examination could take up to several weeks."
In the meantime, funeral arrangements have been completed, Erickson said.
A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday at Unionville High School, with calling hours from 4 to 6 p.m. An hour-long service and a reception will follow.
The funeral service will be Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel, beginning at 10 a.m. Afterward, Dickmann will be laid to rest in the Naval Academy cemetery, Erickson said.
Erickson said "a contingent of midshipmen, including company mates, classmates and teammates," was expected to attend the Unionville service. She said she could not confirm reports that Kristen Dickmann's plebe hat would be used in a forthcoming Naval Academy ceremony.
Joe Boland, the director of the Valley Forge Girls Volleyball Club, where Kristen Dickmann played from 2005 to 2007, said he had canceled Tuesday's practices so the club's 100 or so members could attend the high school service. He said club members would be wearing commemorative ribbons.
"She had an infectiousness about her that made it impossible not to like her," said Boland.
Some players are hard to remember after they've left the club, and some "you can never forget," he said.
"She's one of those."