National News

13-Year-Old Boy Dies After Collapsing During Soccer Game in Orange County

Posted August 28

— A 13-year-old soccer player died after collapsing during a game in Westminster over the weekend.

Felipe De La Cruz was playing with his team, Strikers FC North, on Saturday at Westminster High School when he "became unconscious" during the match, according to a statement posted on the team's website.

Felipe was rushed to a hospital in Huntington Beach where he died, the statement read.

The teen collapsed within 30 seconds of coming out of the game and sitting on the bench during the second half, his coaches told the Orange County Register. He had raised his hand prior, complaining of tiredness, and was immediately substituted.

"He was having a stellar game," Mike Ornelas, one of the coaches, told the newspaper. "He was getting forward in the attack and he was defending very well."

Ornelas and another coach, Ron Esparza, said there were no signs or warnings anything had been wrong with Felipe before that.

A cause of death was not immediately known; an autopsy would be performed to determine one.

"As a coach, you worry that things like this (may) happen, but you never expect it to happen," Esparza said told the Register in a phone interview.

Felipe attended Newton Middle School in Hacienda Heights. He was the only player on the team who resided outside Orange County, the newspaper reported.

An administrative assistant at the middle school told KTLA that counselors would be on hand at Newton all day Monday, as well as the rest of the week.

A GoFundMe page has been started to help Felipe's family pay for funeral costs.

Those who knew the teen are remembering him as a "kind young man."

"He was a smiley, friendly and happy son, brother teammate and friend," wrote Marchelle Boyer Esparza, who created the fundraising account.

The page sought to raise $20,000 for Felipe's family. By Monday morning, it was more than halfway toward its goal, having brought in over $11,000.

KTLA's Steve Bien contributed to this story.

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