LaPorte, Ind. Results of an autopsy on LaPorte High School football player Jake West, who died as a result of cardiac arrest during practice Wednesday night, revealed that West died of natural causes -- pointing to a right ventricular cardiomyopathy. It's a condition where damaged heart muscle is gradually replaced by scar tissue and fat, which weakens the pumping of the heart.
West was just 17 years old.
LaPorte will play its varsity football game on Friday night at Merrillville, two days after the passing of the junior linebacker. The team will wear stickers on their helmets to honor West during Friday's game. Thursday's freshman game has been moved to Saturday.
“He was an excellent student. He was well liked by his friends," says school superintendent Rande Thorpe. "He is just what you would consider a model student, very involved and very active, this is a terrible tragedy.”
Bystanders and coaches performed CPR on West after he collapsed on the track area at Kiwanis Field Wednesday. First responders shocked West numerous times with a defibrillator. He was rushed to IU Health LaPorte Hospital, but did not survive, according to LaPorte County Coronor John Sullivan.
The school provided students experiencing a difficult time with counselors and volunteers from a local ministry, but how do you explain something like this that happened so suddenly.
“The answer is some, things we just can’t explain and some things we just have to leave in God’s hands and we don’t understand why, it doesn’t make sense from our perspective,” says Thorpe.
The high school also announced there will be a Celebration of Life Service for West that will be held Sunday at LaPorte's Kiwanas Field. It will begin at 4:30pm CST. The service will be open to the public.
According to the LaPorte football roster, West stood 6'0" tall and weighed 180 pounds.
An outpouring of condolences for West have already been posted on Twitter, including from Notre Dame running backs coach Tony Alford, who just before the football season had a similar tragedy when his brother Aaron suffered a sudden death.
"Thoughts & prayers for Jake West's family and the entire LaPorte HS Football team and community for your loss. #Faith," Alford wrote.
Teammates expressed their thoughts on Wednesday night.
"I love you Jake West," wrote LaPorte junior wide receiver Brian McGuire. "You will be missed unexplainably. You didn't deserve this. I became real close to you and this just breaks my heart."
"R.I.P. Jake West, I love you man," wrote LaPorte junior defensive lineman Jarett Gentry. "Best teammate I could ask for. At least you passed doing what you love with your football family."
I love you Jake West. You will be missed unexplainably. You didn't deserve this. I've became real close to you and this just breaks my heart— Brian McGuire (@BrianMcGuire_23) September 26, 2013
R.I.P jake west, I love you man, best teammate I could ask for at least you passed doing what you love with your football family ❤��— Jarett Gentry (@_jarettgentry) September 26, 2013