Commentary

Cause unknown in football player's death

Updated: September 16, 2009, 4:52 AM ET
By Mark Tennis | ESPNRISE.com

Students returned to Garden Grove (Garden Grove, Calif.) on Monday with heavy hearts after the death of senior fullback/linebacker Kevin Telles.

Friday night's football game at Westminster (Westminster, Calif.) turned tragic when Telles collapsed in the fourth quarter without taking a hit. According to the Orange County Register, the 17-year-old was face down and motionless on the field.

Medical personnel cut away Telles' shoulder pads and performed CPR. After about 30 minutes, Telles was transported to Huntington Beach Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Orange County coroner's office said an autopsy proved inconclusive. Due to further tests, it may be several weeks until a cause is known.

According to reports, however, Telles did not collapse after being hit.

"It wasn't a collision; it wasn't a hit," Garden Grove head coach Joe Hay told the Register. "He just collapsed. He was gasping for air. It was just Kevin's time."

The last California high school football player to die as a result of an on-field incident during a game was Matthew Zaragoza Van Gelderen from East Union (Manteca, Calif.) in September of 2005. He collapsed after a helmet-to-helmet collision during a kickoff return. Van Gelderen was on life support for a week before he died.

According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury, seven high school football players died in 2008 as a result of football activities.

The seven deaths in 2008 were the most reported by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury since eight players died in 2001.