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Monday, March 16, 2015: New Paltz sophomore runner dies after 2 heart attacks

   Leading off today: A New Paltz sophomore who died Sunday after having two heart attacks had an undetected heart condition, his uncle told The Poughkeepsie Journal on Monday.

   Kyle Brewer, 16, was stricken and collapsed Friday during track and field practice, school officials and friends said. Coaches administered CPR and used the school's automated external defibrillator before Brewer was transported to Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie.

   He was transferred to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla where he seemed to be recovering until a second heart attack Sunday night. He died at approximately 11:30 p.m.

   "We are struggling," said Trenton Brown, Brewer's uncle. "He was a great kid."

   Brown told the paper doctors said Brewer had a previously undetected heart condition. Tests were being performed to determine what circumstances led to the heart attacks.

   "He was a healthy kid, as far as we knew," Brown said. "That's why it's such a shock. The doctors are as shocked as we are."

   Word of the young runner's death spread through the high school early Monday. The district held an assembly, and steered students to the district's crisis team and counselors from an area agency. Grief counseling will be available for the rest of the week.

   "Kyle's passing is heart-breaking for the entire school community," said Superintendent Maria Rice. "He was an amazing young man with a promising future. The Board of Education, administration, and faculty and staff all extend their most heart-felt sympathy to the Brewer family."

   Brewer is the third New York high school athlete to die after being stricken in games or practices this school year.

   Shoreham-Wading River football player Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old junior guard and linebacker, died Oct. 1 after he collided with an opponent and collapsed during a game. Authorities said Cutinella died from his head injury after undergoing surgery.

   On Sept. 1, Curtis High junior lineman Miles Kirkland-Thomas collapsed after wind sprints during a Labor Day practice and later died at a Staten Island hospital. The cause of his death has not been released.

   There have been a number of deaths at high school practices and contests across the state in recent years.

   In September 2013, Brocton junior Damon Janes, 16, died three days after collapsing during a Section 6 football game. His death was the sixth ever in Western New York high school football and the first there since Mike Dwyer of Olean Archbishop Walsh in 1977.

   Also in 1977, Fulton senior Rick Luciano complained of chest pains during the fourth quarter of a game in North Syracuse. After being checked by a paramedic at the scene, he was released to his family and transported to an area hospital, where he was stricken and died.

   Ronan Guyer, a 14-year-old Southold freshman, died in November 2012 five days after being placed in a medically induced coma. While scouting the course to be used the following day at the NYSPHSAA cross country championships at Elma Meadows, Guyer slipped on a muddy area and fell on his chest, triggering cardiac arrest.

   In October 2011, Phoenix varsity football player Ridge Barden died following a head injury suffered in a game. He complained of a severe headache following a play and collapsed while trying to stand up. Autopsy results showed he died of bleeding in the brain, due to blunt force trauma.

   Other recent deaths of football players in New York include:

   In 1983, Yonkers football player Fernando Guedes, 17, died after collapsing during the season-opening game vs. Scarsdale. The death prompted the district to briefly suspend all sports while it investigated how an athlete with a serious heart ailment was allowed to participate.

   Newburgh Free Academy tri-captain James Arline, a 17-year-old senior linebacker, fell ill shortly after an October 1992 road game and died of a stroke. It was uncertain whether it was related to a blow suffered in the game.


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  •    Torrance Wright Jr., a 17-year-old lineman for Rochester's Franklin High, collapsed and died during a four-team scrimmage in Livonia the week before the start of the 1999 regular season.

       Spackenkill junior football player Mark Milano died Oct. 7, 2006, from complications involving pain medication at his home a day after dislocating an ankle during a game at Millbrook.

       In July 2012, Nicholas Dellaventura, 15, died after being overcome by heat during an offseason workout at St. Joseph-by-the-Sea.

       According to the Annual Survey of Football Injury Research prepared by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, there were 25 fatal injuries to U.S. high school football players between 2003 and 2013. After two directly related deaths each year from 2009 to 2011 and then none in 2012, there were eight such fatalities in 2013.

       New York athletes in other sports have not been immune.

       In April 2007, Pittsford freshman lacrosse player Jeff Milano-Johnson, 14, died after he was struck in the back of his head just below the helmet by a ball during warmups before a game at Spencerport.

       Another freshman lacrosse player died in March 2000. Louis Acompora, a Northport goalie, was struck in the chest by a ball during a freshman game. Acompora, 14, suffered commotio cordis, a rare form of cardiac arrest considered reversible with the assistance of an automated external defibrillator, which typically was not available at sports contests at that time.

       His parents became active in raising awareness through the Louis Acompora Foundation, and then-Gov. George Pataki signed into law a bill in June 2002 requiring that a portable defibrillator be placed in each high school. "Louis' Law" was the nation's first to require AEDs, which are now commonplace at schools, public buildings and sporting events in many states.

       Binghamton High lacrosse player John Mack died Nov. 30, 2006, two days after suffering cardiac arrest when checked across the chest during a pickup lacrosse game in the offseason.

       New York City-area runners Stephanie Companioni (St. Thomas Aquinas) and Tanya Lovelace (St. Francis Prep), collapsed and died in February and April 1991, respectively, after competing. Both were reported to be instances of sudden heart failure.

       In April 2007, runner Arielle Newman, 17, of Staten Island's Notre Dame Academy died when her system absorbed lethal levels of methyl salicylate, an ingredient found in sore muscle treatments like BenGay, Icy Hot and Tiger Balm. Newman was using a cream, adhesive pads containing the anti-inflammatory and another product with the chemical, the medical examiner determined.

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