Members of a stunned and heartbroken community wrapped their collective hearts around a grieving Dumont family Sunday while trying to wrap their minds around the sudden death of a 14-year-old boy who collapsed while playing basketball.
Aaron Vasquez, who hoped to someday become a major league baseball player or coach, had finished practicing with his recreational league team on Saturday when he decided to stick around Grant Elementary School to play ball with his younger brother, other parents said.
A short time later he collapsed, they said.
A coach who's a hospital medic immediately began CPR. Members of the Dumont Volunteer Ambulance Corps took Aaron to Hackensack University Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
A Go Fund Me launched Sunday included a message from Aaron's family:
"With a heavy and broken heart we share the tragic and unexpected loss of our beloved Aaron Vasquez. Aaron was a 14 year old son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend with a bright future ahead of him. As a student and athlete he aspired to become a baseball player or baseball coach for the Major Leagues. He loved God, his family, his church, town and school.
"Aaron was a sweet, loving old soul who wore his heart on his sleeve and approached people with a unique sweetness and tenderness."
The fundraising campaign launched Sunday afternoon reached nearly $35,000 by mid-Sunday evening.
DONATE HERE: Vasquez Family
Aaron had been practicing with a travel team, other parents said. Their practice had ended around 3:30 p.m. or so Saturday and he remained to play ball with his brother's team, they said.
He collapsed about a half-hour later.
MEAL TRAIN: mealtrain.com/vasquez family
Dumont Mayor Anthony LaBruno posted a message about the tragedy:
"Yesterday evening, our community suffered an immeasurable loss upon the tragic passing of one of our young residents and students. Our hearts and prayers are with the child's family and friends as they navigate the unimaginable pain of losing a child.
"Per Superintendent Poidomani, Dumont Public Schools will be offering counseling and bereavement support services to any student who feels affected by this tragedy.
"Members of the district's Crisis Response Team and the Bergen County Traumatic Loss Coalition (TLC) will be available to meet with students, staff, and parents individually and in groups on Monday and Tuesday, as well as over the coming days and weeks in all of our schools. Please contact your child's school if you or your child is in need of assistance.
"The days and weeks ahead will be challenging for our community. We will be in contact about opportunities to offer care and assistance to the affected family. Now, more than ever, we must come together as one big family to unite, uplift, and support our neighbors."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.