DeKalb County

Co-workers 'taking it very hard' after teen dies training for school's dance team

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News talked to the friends of a DeKalb County high school student who collapsed and died during dance practice Monday.

[READ MORE: High school dance team member collapses, dies during summer workout]

Everyone who worked with Elyse Purefoy at a Zaxby's in Lithonia had something nice to say about her.

“She could just look at you and smile and you can’t help but smile back,” manager Kimberly Cuffie said. "I mean her spirit was so light, so pure."

Cuffie choked back tears as she remembered the vibrant 17-year-old.

[GoFundMe page for the family of Elyse Purefoy]

“Somehow, some way she was always able to light up the store and give so much positivity to everyone around her without saying much,” Cuffie said.

Purefoy, a rising senior, had worked hard to get a spot on the Arabia Mountain High School dance team.


But on Monday morning, a summer practice turned tragic. Witnesses said Purefoy was participating in a drill when she suddenly collapsed.

First responders rushed her to the hospital, where doctors pronounced her dead.

“A lot of the team members are taking it very hard,” district manager Kay Norris said.

Her Zaxby’s coworkers joined together Tuesday to leave her a loving message on the sign outside: “We love you Elyse. R.I.P.”

Norris said a fundraiser will be held Saturday night to support the teen's family.

"She was a very vibrant young lady. Whenever I entered the store, she was always smiling, ‘Hi Ms. Kay,’ so she's definitely someone that's going to be missed,” Norris said.

The exact cause of Purefoy’s death remains a mystery, but her brother believes there are two possibilities: severe dehydration or a heart problem.