(KTLA) — A community is mourning after a 12-year-old California boy collapsed and died during a physical education class on Tuesday.
It started out as a typical school day for Yahshua Robinson, of Lake Elsinore.
He was participating in PE activities at Canyon Lake Middle School when he suddenly collapsed and became unresponsive.
Yahshua’s family said despite the response from medical professionals, the boy died from cardiac arrest at the hospital. They believe his sudden death was caused by the sweltering heatwave that covered Southern California this week.
The boy’s parents and his three siblings are trying to process his death while accepting their new reality — a life without Yahshua.
Yahshua’s family said in a statement:
“We know that Yahshua was loved by many, and we appreciate everyone who is helping us to grieve his loss. We are still in shock and disbelief over Yahshua’s death. He was a bright, talented, and loving child who had a bright future ahead of him. We are struggling to understand why this happened.”
His sudden death has deeply impacted the Canyon Hills community as well, including local parent, Leah Harnden.
“It hits home knowing that a child was dropped off and didn’t get to come home to their family,” Harnden said. “I know that this world is so crazy and we worry about our kids at school and for something tragic like this to happen, it’s devastating. I cried. I absolutely cried because it’s not right.”
Harnden’s daughter, Caycee Berry, is a fifth-grader at Canyon Hills Elementary School next door. She says the mood in class has been a somber one.
“People have been seeing a counselor because it’s just like, it’s running through their brains,” Berry said. “It’s hard to take in.”
Dr. Branden Turner, a family and sports medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente, said in Southern California, locals aren’t really accustomed to such a high heat index, especially during record-breaking heatwaves.
“I think there are all these weather events that are new for us, so we have to create the processes for them so that we can keep each other safe and in particular, keep our kids safe,” Turner said.
He said although we generally think of older people as most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, we often forget that children have risk factors, too.
“One of the main ones being for little kids, I have seen kids, including myself when I was a kid, play for hours and had no idea where a water fountain is,” Turner said. “Kids have a ton of reserve. So sometimes, kids can look completely fine and then all of a sudden, like that, they’re not feeling well.”
A statement from the Lake Elsinore Unified School District said:
“In this difficult moment, we are deeply saddened to confirm the passing of one of our students due to a medical emergency on one of our LEUSD campuses. Our hearts are with the family, friends, and our school community. This is a time of great sorrow for the entire community.”
The school district is providing mental health and grief counselors for students and staff.
Yahshua’s family told KTLA they appreciate the outpouring of support from the community. A GoFundMe page was created to help with funeral expenses.
Meanwhile, they said they’re still awaiting official autopsy reports.