Counselors and local ministers gathered at a northwest Indiana high school Thursday morning to help students deal with the death of a 17-year old football player.
Jake West, a junior linebacker at LaPorte High School, collapsed Wednesday during practice, the Post-Tribune is reporting.
LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan expects a preliminary autopsy report late Thursday afternoon.
Sullivan said the 17-year-old was running laps in full gear when he collapsed. A call to 911 went out at 5:11 p.m.
"While he was running on the track, he collapsed in full cardiac arrest. LaPorte Fire and EMS arrived and found him unresponsive and unconscious, and staff from LaPorte High School was doing CPR on him," Sullivan said.
First responders shocked West three times with a defibrillator and transported him to IU Health LaPorte Hospital, where Sullivan said the medical staff undertook extensive resuscitation efforts. West died at 6:38 p.m.
"They tried. They worked on him for a long time," Sullivan said.
West's body has been transferred to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka for a forensic autopsy by Joseph Prahlow, a pediatric certified forensic pathologist, Sullivan said.
Rande Thorp, interim superintendent at LaPorte, said students were instructed by the principal to go to the auditorium if they felt like they needed to talk to a counselor.
Thorp called West a popular student who also participated in track and lacrosse.
"This is a tremendous loss for our students and community," he said. "We want our students to come together at this time."
Athletic director Ed Gilliland said the game between Merrillville and LaPorte will go on as scheduled. Gilliland said the team plans to honor West by wearing two stickers on their helmets — one with his initials and another with his number, 26.
Arrangements are pending at Essling Funeral Home in LaPorte.
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