Fennville Basketball Player Collapses, Dies after Game
Wes Leonard was pronounced dead at the hospital after the game
FENNVILLE —Wes Leonard, a standout player for the Fennville High School basketball team, suddenly collapsed on the court shortly after winning Thursday night's game.
A spokesperson for Holland Hospital said Leonard went into cardiac arrest after the game and became unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital and was pronounced dead at 10:40 p.m.
It was a devastating scene for the hundreds of people who attended the game.
Leonard, who was 16 years old, led the team to their 20th victory Thursday night to complete the season undefeated. He had just sunk the winning basket in overtime just before his collapse. He was also a quarterback for school's football team.
Immediately after the game, dozens of classmates, friends, and family members posted on Facebook, asking for prayers and support.
Leonard's last Facebook posting was Wednesday night when he posted "Got a good long shower...ready for bed and game tomorrow!"
An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
There were indications Wes had been ill. On March 2 in the Allegan County News, he was quoted: "Sickness has gotten to us a little bit. I stayed home all day (Friday), but I felt a little better today."
In a press conference Friday morning, Fennville Public Schools Superintendent Dirk Weeldryer remembered Wes as "a wonderful kid."
"Even with the accolades and people calling him a star ... he was very humble and down to earth, widely liked and admired."
Wes's mother is a choral teacher at the high school, supervising performances of a musical this week. "His mother is a vibrant, dedicated teacher, and I think that's going to be part of what makes this very difficult for our staff as well," said Weeldryer. Performances of the musical have been suspended
A crisis team was assembled early Friday morning, and counselors were being made available to help students, he said. "There are things you never, ever want to have to address ... particularly with a situation like this, where Wes was so widely known and respected and revered," said Weeldryer.
The superintendent said he was announcing the game Thursday night, and the crowd was especially large, since both Fennville and Bridgeman had good teams. The game had been scheduled late in the season specifically because every knew the teams would be good, he said.
March 4, 2011
Wes Leonard: enlarged heart killed HS athlete
Mich. high school's star player who collapsed after game-winning shot died from dilated cardiomyopathy, medical examiner says
(CBS/AP) FENNVILLE, Mich. - A Michigan high school's star basketball player who collapsed on the court after making a game-winning shot died of an enlarged heart, according to the medical examiner.
- Play CBS Video Video 16-year-old dies after scoring winning basket Wes Leonard, a 16-year-old high-school junior, died of an enlarged heart shortly after scoring a game-winning basket. Dean Reynolds reports on a story of sudden victory and sudden loss.
Dr. David A. Start, the Ottawa County medical examiner, says 16-year-old Wes Leonard suffered cardiac arrest because of the condition. An autopsy was conducted Friday.
Leonard, a star athlete at Fennville High, died Thursday night. Paramedics performed CPR on the 16-year-old before he was pronounced dead at the hospital, Holland Hospital spokeswoman Deb Patterson said.
Wes Leonard photos: Tragedy on the court
Leonard's family told CBS News that the teenager had no known previous heart condition. "This was a total shock," the family said. "He was 'like a man' and such an athletic boy, in seemingly perfect condition."According to CBS News partner WebMD, dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart's ability to pump blood is decreased because the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, is enlarged and weakened.
CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton reports that the condition, which can be hereditary or acquired, could have followed a virus or the cause could be unknown.
Many at Fennville High told CBS affiliate WWMT that Leonard was in the best athletic shape of his life, though they say he may have recently had the flu.
Dr. Laura Martin of WebMD notes that usually people get significant shortness of breath and heart failure with dilated cardiomyopathy. She adds the condition is not always associated with a heart murmur and may not necessarily be picked up on health screen unless the patient is symptomatic.
On Thursday, Leonard, who earlier this season eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his high school career, laid the ball in with less than 30 seconds remaining.