Autopsy: Student Athlete Had Heart Problem

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September 26, 2013 — LaPorte County’s Coroner says autopsy results today show a high school athlete died a natural death from a congenital heart problem.

Coroner John Sullivan says 17-year-old Jacob West died yesterday after coaches and medics tried to resuscitate him after a football practice.  Sullivan says the high school football linebacker was pronounced “dead” at 6:38 p.m. at IU Health’s hospital in LaPorte.

LaPorte Community Schools Superintendent Rande Thorpe says counselors helped classmates and friends of West today.  LaPorte High School junior Brandon Vanes was among them, “Today was a very depressing day, throughout the whole school.”

Vanes lives across the street from Kiwanis Field.  He said he saw emergency workers trying to save his classmate, Jacob West.

“At first I didn’t really know what was going on.  I saw them rushing over, and all of them we’re huddling around someone.”

Vanes said he thought someone broke their leg or something minor, but he said when he got to school today he learned that West died, “It just really shocking to think that that happened and that there was really nothing that I could do.”

Superintendent Thorpe said, “One of the things that we did this morning is our high school principal did make an announcement to staff and students today.”

Thorpe says the principal offered counseling sessions to students who wanted help dealing with West’s death.

“In our auditorium we had counselors;  we also had voluntary people from our local ministerial association who were there to help them just to deal with the situation they were facing.”

Coroner Sullivan says West was getting CPR from coaches at Kiwanis Field when first responders arrived.  He says medics gave West three defibrilator shocks, failing to get a pulse.  While funeral arrangements are pending at Essling Funeral Home the school plans to display a tribute on its uniforms at tomorrow night’s football game at Merrillville and through the remainder of football season.



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