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High school wrestler dies at practice

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  • High school wrestler dies at practice

    I have emailed the reporter who wrote this story, and I will try to get as much information as possible.
    FX



    High school wrestler dies at practice

    By DON PLUMMER
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Published on: 11/19/04


    A sophomore wrestler collapsed and died Thursday during practice at Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County, a school official said.

    The county coroner's office identified the boy as 15-year-old David M. Ribeiro. An autopsy was planned for later today.

    The boy complained of being tired and was told to sit out of practice by head wrestling coach Scott Smith, Principal Roy A. Rabold said.

    "The coach sent the assistant coach over to check on the student, and as he did the young man collapsed," Rabold said. The coaches called 911 and both began CPR, Rabold said.

    "The coaches said they lost his heartbeat twice before paramedics arrived," Rabold said.

    School officials will have counselors at the school in Tyrone today to assist students and expect to provide more information about the student's death, Rabold said.

    This is the second Sandy Creek athlete to die in two years. Swimmer Shelly Smitts died in 2003 of complications related to a viral infection in her heart.

    On Jan. 15, 2000, 16-year-old Sandy Creek wrestler Kerry Ruffin was paralyzed from the waist down during a meet.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Here is the article from the next day. Still no autopsy results.

    Athlete dreamed of learning to fly

    By KEVIN DUFFY
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Published on: 11/19/04


    David Ribeiro's dream was to fly. When he was 4, his mother, a Federal Aviation Administration employee, took him to an air show. He tried on a pilot's helmet and was sold.

    When the new school year started, Ribeiro put away his band trumpet so he could concentrate on the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County.

    "He always wanted to be a pilot," said Dagmar Gomez, his mother. Gomez spoke haltingly Friday as she prepared for the Sunday funeral of her only son.

    Ribeiro was at wrestling practice Thursday, his first year on the Sandy Creek team, when he complained of fatigue and sat out. As a coach checked on him, the youngster collapsed and a short time later died.

    His mother knew of no health problems. He'd passed a physical before starting the season, a requirement for all athletes by the Georgia High School Association. And he'd never complained about wrestling practice, which started about a month ago, Gomez said.

    "He was very happy. He was doing what he wanted to do," Gomez said.

    Ribeiro's coaches administered CPR and called emergency personnel, who showed up in four minutes, according to the school system's public information officer, Melinda Berry-Dreisbach.

    The school has a defibrillator to shock the heart but there wasn't enough time for school employees to get the device, Berry-Dreisbach said. Wrestling practice was in the field house and the defibrillator was in the cafeteria, she said.

    GBI spokesman John Bankhead said an autopsy would be performed today.

    School officials said they did not think the sophomore, who weighed about 165 pounds, was trying to lose weight, which can lead to dizziness and discomfort. He was to compete in the 171-pound weight class.

    This isn't the first time Sandy Creek's wrestling program has seen tragedy. Kerry Ruffin, 16, was paralyzed in January 2000 from a neck injury. A Sandy Creek swimmer, Shelly Smitts, died last year from complications related to a viral infection in her heart.

    Ribeiro lived with his mother and sister, Mari, in a two-story brick-front home in a wooded subdivision near Fayetteville. Friends, relatives and students filled the home Friday night. The teenagers left plants, stuffed animals and posters.

    "He was so handsome," his mother said. "Everybody loved him."

    A dozen teenagers sat in a front room, surrounding Mari Ribeiro, 18, who was seated on a couch. She's a senior at Sandy Creek. The group laughed and talked loudly. "It's all for distraction, right now," Mari said.

    Ribeiro's death was announced to students over the public address system Friday morning. About a dozen grief counselors were at the school in Tyrone.

    "He never did anything wrong to anybody. He's a good guy," said Derek Scarborough, a wrestling teammate.

    Students who knew Ribeiro described him as likable, outgoing and dedicated to everything he did.

    "He was the guy that told the funny jokes and lit up the classroom," said Dylan Scarborough, a longtime friend of Ribeiro's.

    C.W. Campbell, director of safety and athletics for the Fayette school system, said head wrestling coach Scott Smith and assistant coach Steve Henderson "are distraught."

    "This is a coach's worst nightmare," Campbell said. "You have injuries that you encounter during practice, but the child's coming back. But when you have someone actually collapse in a practice area, that's devastating to a coach.

    It'll be a tough road to recovery for everyone involved."

    Ribeiro's father, Altivo Ribeiro, is a trucker. He was in Jackson, Tenn., Thursday when he learned his son was dead. He raced six hours back to the Atlanta area.

    Like Gomez, he couldn't explain why his son's life ended so soon.

    "I know God is in control," Ribeiro said. "We're going to cry and hug together. We know God takes him."

    — Staff writers S.A. Reid and Jay Stone contributed to this report.
    Fx

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