Tragedy struck the swimming team at Harvard Westlake (Calif.) High, one of Los Angeles’ most famous schools, when a junior swimmer collapsed during a workout in the school’s pool and died of a condition which was later determined to be a heart arrhythmia.
As reported by Los Angeles CBS affiliate KTLA and the Los Angeles Times, among other Southern California outlets, 16-year-old Justin Carr died after he collapsed while swimming a workout in the school pool. After he passed out Carr was immediately pulled from the pool and paramedics were called to the scene. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived he was already unresponsive, and the teen was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The teen was diagnosed with cardio myopathy, an arrhythmia that stops the heart and can lead to death if not regulated by a pacemaker. His cardiac condition had not been previously diagnosed.
“The entire Harvard-Westlake community is mourning the loss of Justin Carr, a beloved friend and student. Our hearts are broken,” Harvard Westlake officials said in an official school statement. “Justin had an enormous impact on students and teachers, and he will be missed profoundly.”
As noted by KTLA, the junior’s influence at the school went far beyond his role on the swim team. The teen was also a member of the Harvard Westlake chamber singers, was a frequent lead in the school’s plays and led Harvard Westlake’s Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club (BLACC), an influential on-campus organization aimed at improving racial understanding via outreach and campus events.
According to KTLA, it was in his capacity with BLACC that Carr helped recruit Samuel L. Jackson to speak at the school.
Now, just weeks later, Carr is gone and his peers left beyond are struggling to grasp precisely why he was taken so soon.