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Family remembers mother who died giving birth on Yakima Greenway

YAKIMA, Wash. - Shaya Ball was strong, beautiful and always had a smile on her face, even during unhappy times. 

She loved swimming, camping, barbecues, family get-togethers, her friends and her babies more than anything in the world.

That’s how Elicia Cross remembers the mother of her almost 2-year-old grandson, the second-youngest of Shaya’s nine children.

“Shaya was very strong, having endured all that she had,” Elicia said. “Her children will continue to be well cared for and taken care of.” 

Shaya, 31, was walking on the Yakima Greenway toward her sister’s house, went into labor and gave birth to a baby girl, Elicia said.

“She did what she had to do in her situation,” Elicia said. “She lost her life after she saved her baby. God bless her and keep her in heaven.” 

Shaya was found dead on the path Wednesday afternoon, with her newborn baby in a tote bag nearby. 

When police arrived, the baby was unconscious, but they were able to revive her with CPR — earning her the nickname “miracle baby” from Yakima County Coroner Jim Curtice. 

Shaya’s official cause of death cannot be determined until toxicology tests are completed, which could take about six weeks, Curtice said.

However, Elicia said she believes Shaya died from complications due to childbirth. When Shaya gave birth years earlier to Elicia's grandson, Shaya's placenta didn’t detach naturally and she lost a massive amount of blood.

After most women give birth, the placenta is expelled from the uterus naturally, usually within about 30 minutes. But for some, the placenta has to be removed from the womb by a doctor. If the placenta isn’t removed, the extreme blood loss can be life-threatening, resulting in infection or even death. 

Based on what family members have said and what she witnessed with the birth of her grandson, Elicia said it's her opinion that Shaya died from post-partum hemorrhage from retained placenta.

Elicia says her grandson is a miracle in his own right. The family recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of his liver transplant.

“To be notified the very next day that his mother was gone is heartbreaking,” Elicia said.

The little boy will be 2 years old on the Fourth of July, Elicia said. She said Shaya loved her babies and did anything she could for them.

"Much like everyone, she had her troubles and struggles,” Elicia said. “It didn't make her any less of a human being than you or I.”

Elicia said the family is struggling to come up with the money for funeral expenses.

“It's a sad situation for everyone, especially the children,” Elicia said. “We have to be strong through the pain and carry on. She would want it like that.”


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