Teen Collapses at Mission Hills High School, Dies

Anthony Vaeao, 18, collapsed in the school gym Thursday afternoon

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Family, friends and classmates of a popular San Marcos teenager are trying to make sense of what caused the 18-year-old’s sudden death.

    One minute Anthony Vaeao was playing basketball with friends at school. The next, he was on the ground and was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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    [DGO] Mission Hills Students Mourn After Death of Teen
    There were only a few absences at Mission Hills High School after one student died suddenly on Thursday, since all students wanted to come to school and comfort each other.

    "What am I going to do? What am I going to do without him," Anthony’s grandmother Sepoima Vaeao told NBCSanDiego.

    Deputies are investigating the incident that occurred around 2:50 p.m. at Mission Hills High School in San Marcos.

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    A football star collapses at his San Marcos high school and later dies leaving family and friends heartbroken over the loss of someone they called "their big guy." NBC 7's Brandi Powell spoke with grandmother Sepoima Vaeao, niece Keana Mount and aunts Maggie Curiel and Lela Vaeao.

    Authorities said he collapsed in the high school's gym and was transported to Palomar Medical Center. The medical examiner confirmed the boy died at the hospital.

    Family and friends identified the victim as Vaeao, a popular senior and football star for the Grizzlies.

    The counseling staff at the high school posted a message on Facebook late Thursday "#ripanthony our love to anthony and his family and our entire Grizzly family."

    An impromptu prayer ceremony was held at Mission Hills High School Thursday evening, with several students in attendance trying to make sense of what happened to their classmate.

    Vaeao's family members, including his grandma and aunt, also attended the vigil.

    "I went to the hospital, he's gone, he's gone, I didn't have time to talk to him. I didn't have time to talk to my grandson," the teenager's grandmother cried. "I miss my grandson."

    His aunts said the 6'3" teenager was a big personality with big hair.

    "He would always just grab me and just pull me up," said Maggie Curiel. "He had him shakin' his head, his hair going all over the place."

    Vaeao's friends told NBC 7 San Diego that the teen was playing basketball with friends during a free period at school when he collapsed.

    His friends said an adult faculty member tried to get Vaeao's heartbeat back up using a machine, but it did not work.

    Some parents and students said they were notified of the student's death in a voicemail sent out by the school's principal. In the message, parents said the principal stated that the cause of the student's death was unknown.

    Some relatives told NBCSanDiego certain heart conditions run in some family members but said, to their knowledge, Anthony was a healthy young man preparing for his dream to play college football in the fall.

    Anthony’s loved ones said he had just accepted a full scholarship to play football at Arizona Western College and was looking forward to graduating high school in just three weeks.

    On Friday, Vaeao’s fellow Mission Hills High School students comforted one another on campus over their beloved classmate’s sudden passing.

    Grief counselors were on campus all day to help students cope.

    Throughout the day, makeshift memorials for Vaeao grew on campus, including flowers, candles and posters in memory of the student.

    On Friday afternoon, the medical examiner released a report listing Vaeao’s cause of death as “pending,” as they await further tests.

    The report also showed the high school student had no history of medical problems.

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