The only thing bigger than Dylan Ridolfi's football potential was his heart, family, friends and coaches said of the budding California prep football star who died in a freak sledding accident on Sunday at Mt. Rose in Reno, Nev.
"He was a big kid," Dylan's father Dan Ridolfi told The Sacramento Bee, "but he had a huge heart."
A day after staying on the north shore of Lake Tahoe and skiing Mt. Rose, the Ridolfi family and friends decided to spend Sunday sledding. Riding an inner tube, Dylan, 15, picked up speed on an icy hill over a short distance before losing control, the Bee said.
"It was very, very icy," his father told the paper. "He had gone up a hill. He had not gone more than 20 or 30 feet. He just picked up a head of steam and veered off the main area into a tree."
Dylan's father and other onlookers administered CPR and a nearby fire truck provided further support, but he died soon after the accident, according to multiple reports out of Sacramento.
“He’s a bigger guy, and he couldn’t really maneuver away, and there was a tree, and he, he hit it,” said Michael Bishoff, one of a number of friends and family who witnessed the tragedy, in a CBS Sacramento report. “I ran up as fast as I could, I checked his pulse and I yelled for somebody to call 911. This is just a freak accident. It should have never happened. He was only 15 years old.”
At 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, Ridolfi played offensive line for the Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) High's undefeated freshman football team. He reportedly had Division I potential, even playing through a partially torn knee ligament, according to one report.
"Dylan was simply a great teammate and a great young man," Oak Ridge freshman football coach Bill Bunce told the Village Life. "He was an outstanding football player with enormous potential, but more importantly, he was kind, hard-working, happy and reliable. His teammates and his coaches cared deeply for him and loved him."
Ridolfi dreamed of studying engineering at his parents' alma mater, the University of Nevada at Reno, where he was inspired to play football after watching San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick play for the Wolf Pack as a senior two years ago, according to the Sacramento Bee report.
“Dylan was just a great kid," assistant coach Matt Flynn explained to the Village Life. His teammates loved him dearly. He always had a smile on his face -- rain or shine. He was a big kid but a gentle giant. However, once he put the pads on he became a football player. He was also the most spirited kid on the team with his giant Oak Ridge blue mohawk.”