Coroner: Teen died of pre-existing condition


MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WDTN) – The Warren County Coroner’s Office says a teenager who collapsed at a Middletown haunted attraction Saturday suffered from a pre-existing respiratory condition.

Friends of Christian Benge, 16, have spent the last few days sending messages of love and support to Christian’s mother.

“She played the biggest role in all of our lives and we all miss her so much,” said Jean Benge reading from one of the messages on her phone.

Christian collapsed while visiting the Land of Illusion Friday night with about a hundred of her friends and family. It was a trip she made several times this year.

Her mother said there were no signs that her daughter had any medical problems.

“The mother instinct kicked in when I started the CPR,” said Benge. “I did the CPR until the medics arrived. I trusted God. He has an ultimate plan. It was just time.”

Coroner investigators said Christian died later at Atrium Medical Center.

The family learned at the hospital the teenager’s heart had expanded to four times the normal size. The family said Christian was born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia causing one of her lungs to grow abnormally.

“The heart had to compensate for the lung,” said Benge. “So the heart enlarged four times its size. It just stopped.”

The family said the impact of her death has reached across the Miami Valley. Her aunts, uncles, and cousins joined the family Monday night to remember the teenager who was outgoing and courteous.

Christian’s mother said her daughter was very strong in her faith. She spent every Sunday at her grandfather’s church, Full Gospel Church, in Hamilton. Christian would often sing in the choir helping others her age get comfortable being on stage.

Jean Benge said it was fitting the teenager’s middle name was Faith.

“Those memories of her up here singing and pouring out her heart to everyone is the fondest memory I have of her,” said Julene Adams, one of Christian’s aunts.

Owners of the Land of Illusion released a short statement to 2 NEWS that reads:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Out of respect for their privacy, we decline further comment at this time.”

The coroner’s investigator says her death appears to be of natural causes.  The investigator says she died from a “cardiac incident”.

The haunted attraction also released a very thoughtful statement on its website.

Christian’s visitation is scheduled for Tuesday from 5-8 p.m. at Brown-Dawson-Flick Funeral Home in Hamilton.

Her funeral is set for 10 a.m. on Wednesday at Rose Hill Cemetery.

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