Cause Of Death Released For West Catholic Prep Student Who Died On Football Field

The cause of death for a West Catholic Prep High School student who died during an outdoor scrimmage in July has been released, authorities said.

Ivan Hicks Jr.

Ivan Hicks Jr.

Photo Credit: Google Maps/GoFundMe screenshot

Ivan J. Hicks, Jr, 16, of Philadelphia, died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease, the Chester County Coroner's Office ruled Monday.

The incoming junior also tested positive at the time of his death for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

He had received his second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on July 7, six days before collapsing on the Coatesville Area High School football field on July 13, officials said.

Officials noted that no COVID-19 respiratory disease was found, and cardiac examination showed no inflammation or myocarditis.

"The role, if any, that COVID-19 played in this death is therefore unknown, but in the opinion of the pathologists and the coroner it was not a contributing factor," the coroner's office said.

Contributing factors were cardiomegaly with fibrous scar and remodeling, obesity, and probable exposure to excessive environmental heat.

Immediate efforts by parents at the scene and subsequently by emergency services personnel were unsuccessful in resuscitating Hicks, authorities said.

The teen was pronounced dead at Brandywine Hospital.

After an examination by a specialist in cardiac pathology, they concluded that "while there were features of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition frequently associated with sudden death in young athletes, the diagnosis could not be definitively made or ruled out in this case."

“This tragic unexpected death of a young athlete was intensively investigated,” Chester County Coroner Dr. Christina VandePol said.

“Testing included autopsy, toxicology, specialized cardiac pathology and neuropathology, and genetic testing. Key findings were an enlarged heart and a thickened heart muscle that showed scarring."

"Although the findings did not meet the criteria for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, they are associated with sudden cardiac death. Toxicology was negative. Genetic testing for 168 variants associated with cardiomyopathy and arrhythmias was also negative. Finally, the hot, humid weather conditions may have played a role, but we found no evidence of dehydration," she added.

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