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Garden Grove High football player collapses, dies

September 12, 2009 | 11:56 am

Preliminary autopsy results were expected this afternoon following the death of a Garden Grove High School senior fullback and linebacker, who died after a Friday night football game at Westminster High School.

Kevin Telles, 17, was injured during a play and was lying in the field when Orange County Fire Authority paramedics arrived about 9:17 p.m., said fire authority Capt. Greg McKeown.

“Bystanders were doing CPR on him when we arrived,” McKeown said. “Paramedics continued that effort."

He was then transported to Huntington Beach Hospital.

Witnesses said Telles was lying motionless on the ground.

“I didn’t see any movement,” said Ron Vander Sluis, athletic director at La Quinta High School and former coach at Garden Grove. “Initially, it seemed like a normal play. People thought maybe it was just a stinger, like a ankle sprain, and he was trying to collect himself. You know, suck it up and then get back in the game.”

Instead, Vander Sluis was among dozens of people who rushed to the hospital and gathered in the lobby Friday night hoping for the best.

“It was a huge crowd,” said Vander Sluis, fighting back tears. “The whole team was there, along with the cheerleaders. Parents, administrators and coaches showed up.”

Telles was pronounced dead at 10:25 p.m., according to Orange County supervising deputy coroner Larry Esslinger.

“He was a great kid, a great football player,” said Vander Sluis, who coached Telles for three years. “He would do anything you would ask him to do. He was very coachable.”

“It’s very hard. It’s a very tight-knit community,” he added. “It’s such a tragedy to see young people die.”

The accident resonated at high schools throughout the region.

On Sept. 16, 2008, Boron High School sophomore safety running back Vinnie Rodriguez died after being removed from life support. He had been injured four days earlier making a tackle in a game against Riverside High School for the Deaf.

In an interview Saturday, Boron High ahletic director Jim Boghosian said, “It still hurts. Everyday we talk about it. We wear his number on our helmets.”

Boron coach Todd Fink said, “Dealing with it is the toughest thing I’ve had to go through. ... It’s the worst nightmare you can encounter.”

--- Ben Bolch and Louis Sahagun