A family and a community on New York’s Long Island are mourning after a 10-year-old boy suffered an epileptic seizure on the field of his Little League game and died in front of his brothers and his dad, who was the team’s coach.
Lazar LaPenna, a fourth-grader in Long Beach, collapsed just as he reached first base on Friday, his family said. The child had just celebrated his 10th birthday with his family.
“He got a really nice hit, barrel of the bat. He knew it. The crowd was going crazy,” his father, Gregg LaPenna, told WCBS-TV. “He was so excited. He looked over to me. A smile from ear to ear.”
And in a second, the smile was gone.
LaPenna said he looked down for just a moment to mark the base hit in his score book.
Then, he heard his son Gerry shout.
“I hear Gerry yell that Lazar’s having a seizure, and he fell to the ground,” the father said.
Gerry, who is a year older than his brother, was coaching first base.
Lazar had been diagnosed a few years ago with epilepsy, and was on medication and under the medical supervision of the family physician, his dad said.
The boy’s seizures had gotten progressively worse over the years, but he hadn’t suffered one in nearly a year, his dad said. The only sport the child was allowed to play was baseball.
Lazar loved the game and was a die-hard New York Mets fan.
Though several people try to resuscitate the child, he never regained consciousness.
“After a long period of CPR, he just didn’t make it,” his father said. The team has dedicated the rest of its season to Lazar.
The boy had started this season wearing the number 9, which he actively campaigned for, his dad says.
And after years of changing up his uniform number, this season he finally picked one he wanted to stick with.
“‘Can I be number 9? I always want to be number 9,'” his dad recounted, and then broke down in sobs.