Mount St. Michael mourns athlete’s death

Students and staff at Mount St. Michael Academy are dealing with the loss of an incoming freshman just weeks before the school year was set to begin.

A spokesman confirmed 14-year-old Dominic Bess of Baychester died during football practice Tuesday, August 22 on the campus of the Catholic high school, located at 4300 Murdoch Avenue.

Bess was taking part in cardio drills at around 9 a.m. on school grounds when he collapsed, according to a school spokesman.

Police from the 47th Precinct responded to a 911 call of an unconscious male at the school ball field at 9:31 a.m.

Upon arrival, officers found Bess unconscious and unresponsive.

Bess was transported to Montefiore Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A medical examiner will determine Bess’ cause of death and the investigation is ongoing, according to police.

Grief counselors will be at the school to help students cope with the tragedy.

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, as well as coaches, the team and our student-athletes,” said school spokeswoman Lisa Bennett.

Football players resumed practice at 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to the school’s official Twitter feed.

Local elected leaders also voiced sympathy for the sudden death, including Councilman Andy King.

“I am incredibly saddened to learn of the sudden passing of this young student and promising athlete,” King said. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and teachers during this very difficult time.”

Senator Jamal Bailey also offered condolences for the Bess family.

“Incredibly saddening news. Please pray for the family of this young man,” Bailey said

On the school’s Facebook page, alum and parents offered condolences to the family.

“When my son called me today telling me about this devastating news that happened at practice it broke my heart,” said Tracy Monica Zea. “My condolences go out to his family. Every parent’s worst nightmare. May God bless his soul.”

Some parents questioned why practice wasn’t cancelled or moved inside due to the excessive heat.

The temperature had already risen to around 80 degrees with high humidity, and a heat advisory had been issued by the National Weather Service for later that day.

“It is so sad,” said Ray Ann Kaseman. “A day like today with this heat, practice should have been cancelled. Use common sense.”

Mayor de Blasio also chimed in on the issue, calling for more oversight over athletic activities during extreme heat on Twitter.

“Our hearts break for this young man’s family,” the mayor said. “We should prohibit sports practices during heat waves.”

Bess’ death follows the passing of a football player at Sachem High School East on Long Island earlier in the month.

That 16-year-old student died when a heavy log being carried by players during a drill dropped on his head.

Some of the football coaches at the school have since been relieved of their positions.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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