A Texas teenager died shortly after crossing the finish line in a cross country race earlier this month.
Angel Hernandez, a sophomore at Chisholm Trail High School in Fort Worth, had just achieved a personal best time during a 5K race at a district track meet on Oct. 13 when he collapsed suddenly, KHOU reported.
According to the Houston outlet, a group of concerned friends helped Hernandez to a nearby water station and after collapsing again, he was rushed to a nearby hospital. He died about an hour later.
Hernandez’s friends and family do not know why he collapsed at the meet, per KHOU. His cause of death is under investigation by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.
A week after his sudden death, Hernandez was named Athlete of the Week at his high school, according to CTHS’s athletic department’s website.
Alongside the honor, Hernandez’s coach, Joseph Gifford, wrote of the teen, “He worked hard and was an amazing teammate. We lost Angel at the District XC Meet, and words cannot express our feelings for him and his family. Thank you, Angel, for all your hard work and determination. You will be extremely missed.”
A funeral was held for Hernandez on Friday and later in the evening, CTHS held a moment of silence in his honor at its annual homecoming football game.
Hernandez also studied at and competed with the Texas School of Karate, which canceled all classes in the week following his death.
Ashley Wood, Hernandez’s karate coach at the school, told KHOU that he “made you love him with his personality” and “infectious smile.”
“Every one of us cried, every one of us has comforted each other,” she said. “It’s really hard. We’ll never get over it. We’ll never forget him. He’s going to be missed here, but he’s going to be loved always.”
Wood, who created a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the teen’s family pay for his funeral, told KHOU that it is “comforting to know that his reach went even far beyond what we knew, even outside of martial arts and even outside of him running cross country.”
“It goes far beyond that,” she said. “Everybody is feeling the effects of Angel. Angel is that kid. He touched everyone he came in contact with. You couldn’t help but love him.”
In a memorial published by CTHS’s newspaper, The Ranger Record, Hernandez’s friends recalled the moment he collapsed at the district track meet.
Alejandro Bailey, a cross country runner, said that “all any of us could think about is that hopefully he could pull through this and that we needed him.”
“I was trying to focus on just trying to stay strong for him,” Bailey said, adding that Hernandez “was like family to the team.”
“We were like brothers,” Bailey said. “We just stayed with each other, hugged it out, and told each other it was going to be OK. A lot of stuff was going through my head like, ‘What am I going to do without him?’”
CTHS senior Madison Meers, a friend of Hernandez’s, told the newspaper that he “always put a smile on my face even when I was down and always knew how to brighten someone’s day.”
“Angel loved everyone he met,” she said. “He did not care what had happened in your past, he still loved you.”
She added, “He loved to run and make everyone’s day. He died doing what he loved, and we all hope he is safe and happy.”