STRATTON -- A local family is mourning the loss of its teenage daughter after she was found dead in Valle Nevado, Chile, last week.
Sixteen-year-old Megan Virginia Ives, of Londonderry, died in her sleep of "undetermined natural causes" on Sept. 20.
Ives had traveled to Chile five days prior, along with her classmates from the Stratton Mountain School, as part of an annual alpine skiing training.
Originally from Farmington, Conn., Ives had transferred to Stratton this fall because of her talent on the slopes. A gifted athlete, Ives played field hockey, volleyball, golf, soccer and track in addition to skiing.
"Meg lived a life full of joy, passion and faith," her family wrote in her obituary. "Always able to find the positive in her circumstances, she was a joy to be around for all her family and friends. Meg lifted up those around her with kind words, a wonderful smile and an infectious laugh."
Prior to her transfer to Stratton, Ives was a varsity skier at Miss Porter's School in Farmington and grew up competing for the Magic Mountain Race Team in Londonderry.
She also loved creating stop-motion video, photography and pottery.
Meredith Morin, director of communications for Stratton Mountain School, said Ives had an infectious personality and even in her short time at the school had made an immense impact on her classmates' lives.
"Everybody who knew her says she had the best smile and the best
Groups of students from Stratton Mountain School have been making treks to Chile for the last four years to get started on training as September typically marks the end of winter for the country.
When asked about Ives' unexpected death, Morin said it's inexplicable.
"It's very hard to understand," she said. "As far as we know, she went to sleep on Sept. 19 and just didn't wake up."
Ives is survived by her two sisters, Keri and Katie, her parents, Tom and Mary, 16 aunts and uncles and 20 cousins.
In lieu of flowers, family members are asking that donations be sent to support the Nyumbani Village in Kenya where Meg had longed to serve as her sister Keri had done for the last two summers.
Her family is holding an event for friends and family on Sept. 29 from 3 to 6 p.m., at the Carmon Funeral Home & Family Center in Avon, Conn.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m., at the Valley Community Baptist Church in Avon, Conn., with a reception at the church to follow.