A Federal Way High School football player died after a summer football conditioning workout at the school Tuesday, school officials said. He was 16.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the player as lineman Allen Harris.
“It was the last part of conditioning, and we just heard gasps out of nowhere,” said incoming senior defensive back Poet Grayson, a friend and teammate of Harris. “Allen had just fell to the floor and started seizing.”
The medical examiner confirmed Wednesday that Harris died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It is a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people, including young athletes, according to the American Heart Association’s website, which adds that there can be no symptoms and physical activity can trigger dangerous episodes of arrhythmia.
Grayson said he and Eagles defensive back Trey Davis held Harris as he convulsed.
The school district suspended all outdoor athletic activities at its middle and high schools for a few days to “closely verify and examine the protocols we have in place,” said Tammy Campbell, Federal Way Public Schools superintendent, in a statement.
“We are all heartsick to hear of this news, including of course, the coaching staff who all spend time every day with these players and know them all well,” Campbell said.
According to Grayson, Harris was popular and known for being a joyful, kind person. When news spread via social media about Harris’ death, coaches, teammates and teachers who knew the would-be junior shared stories.
The Federal Way football Twitter account said Harris had “an infectious smile and warm heart that touched all he interacted with.”
A vigil to remember Harris is planned for Thursday at 8:35 p.m. at Federal Way Memorial Field.
“He always had a smile on his face and would always make you laugh,” said Grayson who is joining Davis in dedicating Federal Way’s football season to Harris. “You always wanted to be around him. … That’s what made the team fun, Allen had a special vibe about him. It’s super heartbreaking.”