Cause of death for Minden boy remains a mystery: Memorial service is set today for 8-year-old who collapsed during sports practice |

Cause of death for Minden boy remains a mystery: Memorial service is set today for 8-year-old who collapsed during sports practice

Scott Neuffer
Sarah Hall / The Record-Courier / The family and friends of Britt Mattinson wrote chalk messages on the walls of Minden Elementary School on Tuesday.

Chalk hand prints cover a wall on the playground of Minden Elementary School. On the asphalt, someone has written, “We miss you Britt!”

Students at the school drew the tributes in remembrance of their classmate, 8-year-old Britt Mattinson, who died Saturday morning after collapsing during flag football practice in Minden. A memorial service for the boy is scheduled for 4 p.m. today at Carson Valley United Methodist Church.

An autopsy was conducted by the Washoe County Coroner, but no conclusions had been reached on the cause of death as of Wednesday. Authorities said additional tests would be conducted — a process that could take as long as three months.

At the school, Principal Ken Stoll said a parent had given him the idea of decorating the playground as a way for students to grieve.

“We gave 400 kids chalk and told them to express themselves,” Stoll said. “There’s no manual for this kind of thing, and it’s tough.”

He also said he was amazed with how parents, co-workers and friends came together to help the family.

“We had a staff meeting Sunday, and it was amazing in itself that people came in. Everyone from custodians to teachers showed up to help.”

Stoll said there is a sign-up sheet in the office of Minden Elementary where parents and friends can sign up to cook meals for the family.

He also said an account has been set up at Bank of America to assist the family financially.

“We’re making sure the Mattinsons are taken care of,” said Stoll.

Britt was a student in his mother’s third-grade class at Minden Elementary. Robyn Mattinson has been teaching at the school since 1996. Her husband and Britt’s father, Donovan Mattinson, teaches science at Douglas High School.

Monday morning, extra counselors were assigned to Minden Elementary and placed in classrooms where students had personal ties to Britt. Stoll said prior to Monday the school had notified as many parents as it could, letting them know what had happened and allowing them to prepare their children for a difficult week.

“The outpouring has been phenomenal,” Stoll said. “Everyone knew Brit. He was so nice, bright and funny — such a unique, great little guy.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and East Fork Fire District responded to a call at 10:23 a.m. on Saturday. Arriving on the scene, the grassy area near the Douglas County School District Office, authorities said they found a boy who had collapsed during a flag football practice.

Authorities said the victim was immediately transported to Minden Medical Center, where a Care Flight helicopter was on scene preparing to transport the victim to Reno.

But, according to authorities, resuscitation efforts made at Minden Medical Center were unsuccessful, and the boy was pronounced dead at 11:35 a.m.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User