Boy dies after collapsing prior to track practice at Miami school

NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - An 11-year-old has died after, officials said, he collapsed before beginning track practice at a Miami school, Wednesday evening.

Miami Fire Rescue responded to the scene at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, located at 1100 N.W. 71st St., just after 6:30 p.m.

Officials said Kaleb Harris, who is part of an after-school track club, went into cardiac arrest. “We understand that this young man was part of an athletic club and was just starting his warm-up on the track when several people witnessed him collapse,” said Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll.

According to family members, Harris had no prior health issues.

The boy’s friends initially thought Harris was playing around. “When they realized he wasn’t getting up, they knew something was wrong,” said Carroll.

The 11-year-old’s mother, who wished to remain anonymous, was in the stands when her son collapsed. “He got up, so they thought he was playing,” Harris’ mother said. “The girl was like, ‘Get up.’ He got up and went to run again and fell and couldn’t get back up. He played football years before so, physically, he’s fine. This was the first time he wanted to run track.”

Her mother added that she did not realize it was her son until she ran over to that area of the track. “The other kids were practicing, and I noticed Kaleb wasn’t there,” she said.

After someone called 911, crews responded to the scene. “When they arrived, we found this young man unresponsive,” said Carroll.

The 11-year-old had no pulse and was not breathing, so first responders administered CPR right away.

Paramedics continued CPR in the ambulance as it raced toward Jackson Memorial Hospital. When paramedics arrived at the Ryder Trauma Center, they handed over life-saving efforts to pediatric doctors.

“We know that his condition [was] extremely critical,” said Carroll.

The 11-year-old attended Florida International Academy Charter School in Opa-locka. They shared the following statement: “The faculty, staff, administration, and board of governors of Florida International Academy expresses their deep condolences to the family. Our entire community is grief-stricken at this tragic sudden loss of our beloved student. At this time, we are focusing on meeting the needs of the students on campus who are heartbroken.”

“I feel sad,” said an unnamed woman. “Like, why would this happen?”

Thursday night, the Metro Dade Track Club the 11-year-old was apart of remained on the bleachers to talk about what happened the night before.

“We’re gonna let them tell us how they feel, and whatever they want to speak about, that’s what we’re gonna talk about today,” said Carol Hardemon, head coach of Metro Dade Track Club.

The club said they are making plans to honor the young runner and send love to his family. “At this trying time, the only thing you really could do for them now is to pray for them,” Hardemon said.

Family members told 7News that Harris had dreams of becoming a pastor. “Kaleb was a loving spirit,” said Harris’ grandmother Suzy Pounds, “and Kaleb loved the Lord, too. We do the best we can and keep our kids in doctors, physicals, and, as far as we know, Kaleb was perfectly healthy.”

In a tweet posted Wednesday night, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho confirmed that Harris had passed away.

The family is asking for prayers as they wait for the autopsy. “Just pray, just continue to pray and keep us lifted in prayer,” said Kaleb’s mother.

It is unclear at this time what caused the boy to collapse and die.

Grief counselors were on hand at the school, Thursday.

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