Student dies after giving birth in Oak Ridge Hall bathroom

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A 19-year-old student who died Tuesday night after giving birth in an Oak Ridge Hall bathroom may not have known she was pregnant, a university official said.

Freshman Karen M. Hubbard had told other girls she was feeling sick when they saw her in the second floor bathroom, said Chuck Major, director of housing.

Hubbard wasn’t breathing and had no pulse when a resident assistant on duty found her at 11:30 p.m. in a bathroom stall. When emergency personnel arrived, an officer removed Hubbard from the stall and discovered a newborn baby girl. The baby was immediately wrapped in a blanket and because both the baby and the mother were in need of attention, a student performed CPR on the baby while officers worked on Hubbard, Major said.

Hubbard was pronounced dead at Sacred Heart Hospital. The baby was in critical condition Wednesday night at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield.

She was born full-term, said hospital spokeswoman Kathy Meek.

Hubbard was a pre-pharmacy major who graduated from Owen-Withee High School in 2001.

No one in Oak Ridge, including Hubbard’s roommate, a friend from high school, knew of her pregnancy, Major said.

Everyone that knew Karen is in shock, said her father, Robert Hubbard.

“As far as daughters go, on a scale of one to 10, she was a 10 and a half,” he said. “We thought the world of her. They don’t come any better than her.”

Robert Hubbard declined to comment any further.

Karen Hubbard, co-valedictorian of her high school class, was an outstanding student who was fun and friendly to everyone, said David Nelson, guidance counselor at Owen-Withee High School.

“I would describe her as the ideal daughter,” he said. “She was an absolute sweetheart.”

Hubbard was active in basketball, Spanish club, band and 4-H throughout high school, Nelson said.

“She was one of those people that would know everyone when she walked down the hall,” Nelson said.

Being valedictorian was her goal and she put in hours of work to achieve it, he said, adding that Hubbard was very excited about her pre-pharmacy major.

Several problems can occur when women do not give birth in a hospital, said Kathern Axelsen, director of women’s services at Sacred Heart.

Having access to medication to slow down blood loss and prevent infection is very important, she said.

Students dealing with Hubbard’s death who want to talk to a counselor will be accommodated immediately, said P.J. Kennedy, director of counseling services. Counselors were available Tuesday night and Wednesday at Oak Ridge and students can also schedule sessions at the office.

“With something as traumatic as this, sometimes the impact can be a delayed reaction,” Kennedy said. “We want students to know we’ll be here for them.”

Friends may call from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Maurina Funeral Home in Owen. Services will be 10:30 a.m. Monday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 409 Third St., Owen.