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Heart defect cause of La Porte H.S. football player's death

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:45:09 AM CST   Updated On: Sep 26 2013 08:00:24 PM CDT

The community mourns the loss of the 17-year-old high school football player.


A genetic heart defect is being blamed on the tragic death of a La Porte High School football player.

County Deputy Coroner Mark Baker says Jake West, 17, died around 6 p.m. Wednesday at IU Health LaPorte Hospital after he collapsed during practice.

Baker told WSBT the preliminary cause of death was arrhythmogenic-like ventricular myopathy, which is described as the thinning of the right ventricle walls and as the thinning occurs, muscle replaces the fat. He says strenuous exercise can cause sudden cardiac arrest, and that's what happened with West.

Baker said this is not something a routine physical would detect.

Baker said West was running laps with his gear on when he collapsed at Kiwanis Field.

'He was doing normal practice routines,'' said Baker.

A memorial service has been announced for West.

School officials say a Celebration of Life Service will be held at Kiwanis Field Sunday, starting at 4:30 p.m.

"The service is open to the public so that all can celebrate Jacob's life and reflect on how he enriched our lives in his short time with us," said the La Porte Community School Corporation in a statement late Thursday afternoon.

West was a linebacker on the varsity squad.

Brandon Sickmiller, a sophomore on the team, said Jake was the nicest player on the team.

''He was a really good kid. He was nice to pretty much anybody,'' said Sickmiller, who recalled running into West at times in the school hallways.

''He'd always ask me how my day was going. He was always a positive kid,'' said Sickmiller.

According to the LaPorte Fire Department, West just after 5 p.m. was initially found without a pulse and not breathing.

While CPR was being performed, he regained a pulse and started breathing again but he was having difficulty breathing.

He was transported to IU Health LaPorte Hospital where he died.

Superintendent Rande Thorpe says, "He was a great kid. he's a kid that you hear wonderful things about. he was a good student a good athlete."

The superintendent adds, "We did have counselors and we did have volunteers from our ministerial association who were there and who were willing to talk with them and help them deal with either grief or just questions or just to talk about the situation."