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Friends mourn football player's death

September 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A memorial for a star player of the Garden Grove High School football team was held at St. Columban Catholic Church Sunday evening.Huddled in a packed auditorium, Kevin Telles' teammates, friends and family mourned the loss of this high school senior Sunday night.

Many recalled his final moments on the field.

"Even as he lie dying and fighting for every last breath of air, he died four times on the field," said Jacob Smith, the football team's captain.

It was on Friday night that the 17-year-old collapsed during the last minutes of the football game against Westminster High. Telles, who played full back, had just gone to block another player when all of sudden he collapsed.

Head coach Joe Hay says Telles wasn't even hit when he went down.

"They were afraid for him because he had no pulse, so they turned him over and removed his helmet and he was still gasping for air," says Joe Hay, the team's head coach.

Teammate Gerardo Perez watched the scene from the bench.

"I saw him lay down and he didn't move," said Perez. "At that moment we all knew something was wrong."

Telles eventually died at a local hospital.

Sunday, several parents voiced concerns about the time it took for paramedics to arrive.

"The ambulance wasn't there quick enough, in my opinion," says parent Mike Smith. It wasn't physically on the field like it really should have been, but it wouldn't have made any difference," he says.

Garden Grove athletic officials say they always have an ambulance on the field during homes games, but this was an away game and the California Scholastic Federation does not require it.

"I don't know if that could have made a difference, in talking with the doctor in the hospital, he just said it was Kevin's time," recalls Hay.

Sunday night, most loved ones put away the speculation and instead focused on the teen's short life. He is remembered as the hardest working player on the team.

"He was just the guy that was always caring and giving you a hug when you weren't having a good day and always cheering you up, I just love him," said the team's quarterback Sean Young.

"Everybody is really devastated, nobody is really talking like they used to because he was really well known and loved him," said Desiree Rea, a Garden Grove student.

"He was born on the gridiron and he died on the gridiron," says Kevin Telles' brother, Robert Telles.

Robert Telles says his brother dreamed of playing college ball and eventually for the NFL.

He looked up to former USC player Troy Palamalu.

Kevin Telles even had long hair like his idol but recently cut and donated it to cancer victims.

"I know he died doing his job, and he died for his passion," says Robert Telles.

"He died doing what he wanted to do, what he loved to do, and what he lived for everyday," he added.

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