Community mourns loss of 22-year-old Mt. Hope grad Madisyn Pacheco

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 11/29/23

Friends, family and community members are rallying in support following the tragic loss of a young woman who, by all accounts, spread happiness to all she met.

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Community mourns loss of 22-year-old Mt. Hope grad Madisyn Pacheco

Posted

Friends, family and community members are rallying in support following the tragic loss of a young woman who, by all accounts, spread happiness to all she met.

Bristol resident Madisyn “Maddie” Pacheco was just 22 years old, with a birthday coming up on Dec. 14, when she came down with what appeared at first to be nothing more than a low-grade fever on Nov. 8.

“We thought it was the common cold or maybe the flu,” said Erica Pacheco, Maddie’s mom, during an interview on Monday. “On Friday she had a high fever, she couldn’t keep anything down and had a really bad headache.”

That weekend, Erica said that Maddie spent Sunday in bed sleeping. When Monday morning and afternoon rolled around with no change, they took her temperature and found it to be over 104 degrees. They called an ambulance, which took her to Newport Hospital for a series of tests. They revealed that Maddie was almost certainly in the midst of a viral meningitis attack.

That diagnosis resulted in a transfer to Rhode Island Hospital, where they had experts more able to combat meningitis, which causes a swelling in the tissues around the brain, skull, and spinal cord. Throughout the treatment, Maddie’s prognosis continued to worsen, though Erica remained hopeful that the doctors could beat back the illness.

But on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 16, Erica and her husband received a phone call reporting that Maddie had suffered a seizure, causing her heart to stop. Doctors were able to stabilize her, but it became apparent in the coming hours that Maddie was in a dire condition, and wasn’t going to recover.

After asking all possible questions related to how they might be able to continue Maddie’s fight, her parents ultimately made the hardest decision any parent could make.

“We thought we didn’t want her to go through any more than she’s already going through,” Erica said. They made the decision to take Maddie off life support on Saturday, Nov. 18, and she passed away that afternoon.

“I held her as I did when she was a baby,” Erica said. “I brought her into this world and I was able to take her out in my arms.”

Despite the tragedy, Erica said she was thankful to all of the doctors who tried to save Maddie’s life. She said she was told that Maddie’s case was simply one of the rare meningitis cases where even the best care, administered within the right window of time, still wasn’t enough to prevent the worst outcome.

Erica said she wanted people to remember her daughter as someone who loved animals, little kids, and spread joy to those who came into contact with her, even if only for a brief time.

“She was just an amazing young woman,” she said. “She had a heart of gold and touched so many people’s lives, even just from meeting them once or twice. Outgoing no matter where she went or what room she walked into, she just brought joy and light.”

Community steps in
News of Maddie’s passing quickly began to spread through the Bristol and Warren community. The Mt. Hope football team wore her number 25 on their helmets during the Thanksgiving game against Barrington.

“Maddie was a devoted and decorated soccer player from the graduating class of 2019. A fierce competitor at the center-back position with incredible athleticism and a great teammate always. Maddie will forever be remembered as a bright light by faculty, coaches, and her teammates on and off the field,” the Mt. Hope athletics Facebook page shared on Nov. 19. “We want to send our sincerest condolences to the entire Pacheco Family through this unimaginable time. Maddie, you left a tremendous mark.”

Courtney Poissant, who runs the Common Pub in Bristol and befriended Erica after she began coming to the pub, decided to take it upon herself to organize a fundraiser for the family in honor of Maddie, who had also worked for a time as a bartender and waitress at the pub.

“I would say it was love at first sight with me and Erica. We just hit it off really well,” Poissant said. “Maddie was one of the sweetest, kindest, most energetic people that I’ve ever met. I don’t think that there was one person Maddie met that she didn’t leave an impact on. She had such a wide variety of friends that she was not a person who stuck to a crowd. She loved everybody.”

Poissant booked the Bristol VFW Hall for Jan. 6 at 3:00 p.m. for a BBQ and fundraiser. It will feature music from Bristol resident Colby James and the band Makeshift.

Tickets are $50 apiece and all proceeds go to helping the Pacheco family. You can call Courtney Poissant at 401-835-7384 to inquire about tickets or to make a donation.

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