Middle school student dies in hospital | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Middle school student dies in hospital

Rob Bhatt

Edgar Castaneda, the 13-year-old boy who collapsed last week during physical education at South Tahoe Middle School, passed away Monday afternoon at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento.

The official time of death was 4:55 p.m., after life support was shut down, said hospital spokeswoman Sally Ritsler. She was unable to confirm the official cause of death.

Middle school Principal Mike Greenfield on Tuesday morning announced Castaneda’s death to the student body via the school’s closed circuit television network.



“I thought he was going to make it through,” said Ivan Estrada, a middle school student who was friends with Castaneda. “I was sad.”

The school psychologist and counselors met with students to discuss the situation.



Five students were excused from school to cope with their grief at home, and 15 to 20 others met with counselors for more intensive therapy at school, the principal said.

“Many of the children are not prepared for the death of someone their own age,” said Cris Komorowski, one of Castaneda’s sixth grade teachers. “It’s been hard. I think that the children, in their grieving, are going to learn from the experience. We’re very sad. At the same time, we’re trying to remember the good things about Edgar.”

Friends described Castaneda, 13, as a basketball enthusiast who loved to played the game on school breaks and weekends.

Although he was not a straight-A student, Komorowski said Castaneda, more importantly, “always put good, sincere effort” into his school work.

Castaneda, who suffered from an undisclosed heart condition, fell to the ground pulseless last Thursday morning while running on the school track with classmates.

School officials said they had no knowledge of his preexisting condition.

Lake Tahoe Ambulance Company paramedics restored the young man’s pulse in the ambulance on route to Barton Memorial Hospital. However, Castaneda reportedly never regained consciousness or the ability to breathe without the aid of machines.

Medical experts estimate that one out of every 100 children in the United States is born with a congenital heart defect, said Dr. Michael Doyle, a local pediatrician who had previously treated Castaneda. However, it is rare for these ailments to result in sudden cardiac arrest.

Doyle declined to comment specifically on Castaneda’s condition due to patient confidentiality standards.

The Minnesota Heart Institute Foundation reports that the highest incidence of sudden cardiac death during athletics occurs during high school. Minnesota is one of the few – if only – states in the nation with an assessment program that tracks medical information related to high school sports.

Data obtained through this tracking system determined that roughly 1 in 67,000 – less than .002 percent – of the state’s high school athletes suffered sudden cardiac death between 1985 and 1994.

Doyle described sudden cardiac death as heart muscles dying from a lack of oxygen.

Castaneda was participating in a routine P.E. exercise when he went into cardiac arrest. Classmates told authorities that the young man complained of chest pains and briefly stopped running.

He collapsed shortly after attempting to resume running, according to school reports.

Rich Alexander, assistant superintendent for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, said the school had no record of Castaneda submitting written requests to be excused from P.E. The school administration’s emergency card for Castaneda reportedly did not indicate prior heart problems.

School officials on Monday helped students establish a trust fund at El Dorado Savings to help Castaneda’s family pay for expenses. Donations can be made to account number 14-00-147812 at any branch of El Dorado Savings.


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