• Mysterious illness claims life of local mother


    ATLANTA - A mysterious illness claimed the life of a local mother.

    Stefanie Ballard died Sunday night after developing a strange infection three weeks ago. She became ill after a day of swimming, but a friend said doctors have not linked her condition to a waterborne bacteria.

    “It's very sad, and it's very tragic," friend Angie Chesin said. “It's just a mystery how someone could be perfectly healthy and just two weeks later, be not with us anymore.”

    Stefanie Ballard’s husband, Pete Ballard, said his wife developed summer flu-like symptoms after a day at the pool with daughters Riley, 6, and Reese, 4.

    The symptoms quickly progressed into aches, dizziness, loss of balance and brain swelling, he said.

     “The swelling caused her to be paralyzed on her right side when she went to the hospital," friend Karen Morianos said.

    Morianos said doctors’ tests ruled out that the illness was triggered by a waterborne pathogen. 

    “They ruled out a lot of things, but could never come up with the cause of what happened," Morianos said.

    Despite the best efforts of doctors, the brain swelling continued, and according to a post online by her husband, Stefanie Ballard suffered a heart attack Sunday night and died.

    Her husband, who owns a small video production service, faces mounting medical bills and living expenses. The couple’s friends have set up a GoFundMe page and are planning yards sales to help out.

    “We're just brainstorming a lot of ideas, on how to help them and the two girls' transition into their new life,” Chesin said.

     “It’s just some sort of mysterious illness her body wasn't able to fight,” Morianos said.

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    Mysterious illness claims life of local mother