Memorial set for Saturday for boy who died during football practice, as family seeks answers

Elijah Brown-Garcia collapsed and died on Feb. 10 while practicing at West Side Park in Newark.

News 12 Staff

Feb 17, 2023, 10:18 PM

Updated 421 days ago

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A memorial will be held on Saturday to remember a 12-year-old boy who died during football practice in Newark last week.
Elijah Brown-Garcia collapsed and died on Feb. 10 while practicing at West Side Park. As the family waits on the medical examiner to determine the exact cause of death, they say they have many questions regarding how Elijah died.
The family says that two things went wrong when he collapsed – none of the adults at the practice knew how to perform CPR and the family says it took 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
“What happened that there was such a delayed response?” asks Tiffany Stradford, the boy’s aunt.
“We don’t want this to happen to anybody else’s child… My heart hurts so bad. All of our hearts hurt so bad,” says Donna Brown, his grandmother.
News 12 New Jersey reached out to University Hospital to ask about the possible delay in response.
A spokesperson wrote in a statement, "University Hospital extends its deepest condolences to the grieving family of this young person. For privacy reasons, however, UH cannot comment on protected health information regarding our patients, including confirmation of a patient's identity."
Family members say that they also wondered why officers from the 4th Precinct, which borders the park, didn't respond sooner. They say they know at least three people called 911.
Brown-Garcia played for the Big 21 United Youth Football League. He was performing practice drills when he collapsed.
The family says that the coach had walked away to get cigarettes before Brown-Garcia went down. They say that the players were being supervised by one of the players’ parents.
"Who’s going to answer for the fact that the person that we left our child with wasn't there when the emergency happened?” asks Sable Shelton, the boy's other aunt.
There is no law in New Jersey that says recreation coaches need to be certified in CPR.
Brown-Garcia's relatives say they will encourage people at Saturday’s memorial and balloon release to learn CPR.


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