Officials Issue Warning After Healthy Teen Collapses, Dies

A family is grieving the loss of a young man; he seemed perfectly healthy, until he collapsed and never regained consciousness.

A teen from the Bronx, New York collapsed on Tuesday at school on the field during football practice. The child was rushed to the hospital, and later was pronounced dead. A heart attack is suspected to be the cause of death.

Dominick Bess was only 14 years old, but something went drastically wrong during the teen's high school football practice. The Mount St. Michael Academy student was running laps with his teammates, when suddenly he went down. Coaches and players came running to his aid, and medics were quickly called in. Bess was rushed to Montefiore Medical Center, and died soon after arriving.

“It was a normal practice like every day,” said student and teammate, 17-year-old Kianndrea Smith. "One of my teammates told me someone was down. I said, ‘What happened?’ He said he didn't know.”

Georgette Meade, the boy's 35-year-old mother, got a call from the hospital with the tragic news. She was completely shocked.

Dominick’s uncle, Bertram Meade, said one of Bess's teammates told him everything seemed fine at first. "He mentioned that he was a little tired,” said Meade, 56. “They said one more lap and that was it ... They did everything they could at the school, CPR, everything.”

“He was in the top percentile of his class,” said Bess's uncle. "Words cannot express… In my mind, he could've been anything."

“He always wanted to excel and make his family proud,” he said. “I kept saying, 'Did I miss the warning signs? Did I miss something? Did we miss the cue?’ I don't know.”

Mr. Meade says he can't help but wonder what might have caused his young nephew's tragic demise. “Today was a really hot day. I was wondering about that,” he said. “It was a humid morning,” he said.

Bess collapsed at approximately 9:30 a.m. with temperatures in the high 70’s and humidity in the low 80’s. At this point, it’s unclear if the heat had anything to do with the young man’s death.

School officials were equally shocked by the teen's death. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, as well as coaches, the team, and our student-athletes,” read a statement.

Medical examiners are trying to determine the cause of death, but reports say it looks like a heart attack, something very unusual for such a young child. Results of an autopsy are pending.

Football practice started Thursday and was scheduled to continue daily for the rest of the month until September 1. Practice was broken up into sessions throughout the day, and children were required to take breaks. Smith says he doesn't believe practice was too grueling for kids. “Every drill you get a water break, it's not like they're starving us or anything,” he said.

"It's hard for us but we're going to strive through for Dominick. We want a championship for him,” said Smith.

Mr. Meade will remember his nephew fondly. "He was one of the warmest, kindest kids, intellectual, very smart, very ambitious,” Meade said. “He was exemplary.”

Source: NY Daily News
Photo: Family Handout

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