Oregon State University — particularly its athletic department — is grieving the unexpected death of a young football player. Fred Thompson was a popular student-athlete who apparently had a heart condition.
OSU football coach Mike Riley was in Seattle Wednesday night, recruiting students when he heard one of his young players had died unexpectedly.
“This is just one of those things you just never want to be a part of,” Riley said.
Riley called the news of Thompson’s death “devastating.”
“I just enjoyed him. Those of you that know him, he was fun, and he had a great, great smile, and he was just growing tremendously. So we will just miss him. He’s a great, great, was a great, great, great kid,” Riley said.
State police spokesman Lieutenant Gregg Hastings says Thompson was playing basketball at OSU’s campus recreation center with teammates when he suddenly collapsed.
“Benton County 9-1-1 received a call about 6:20 PM last night, after the people he was playing basketball with alerted Dixon recreation staff. They called 9-1-1,” Hastings said.
Hastings says medics worked to save Thompson’s life. A half-hour after the emergency call, he arrived at the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The official cause of death won’t be known until medical examiner Karen Gunson finishes her autopsy. But Hastings says the medical examiner has gathered enough information to draw one conclusion.
“Dr. Gunson believes that even if EMTs had been standing in the recreation center at the time that Fred collapsed, they probably would not have been able to save him, because the cardiac arrythmia that he suffered is extremely difficult to treat,” Hastings said.
Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis says counselors have been made available for Thompson’s friends and teammates.
He says a memorial is being planned. But he says it’s not going be until January, because most students are on their way home for winter break.
A memorial fund is being planned as well.