Long Island Little Leaguer Dies During Game With Coach Dad in the Dugout

by Taylor Cunningham
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A Long Island community is mourning the loss of a fourth-grade Little Leaguer who died on the field while his father was coaching from the sidelines.

Lazar LaPenna suffered an epileptic seizure during a game as he was running to first base on Friday, April 29th, according to New York’s ABC 7. The night before his death, Lazar had celebrated his 10th birthday.

“The last moment I saw was him standing on first, and he turned to me with a smile,” his father Gregg LaPenna told reporters. “I looked at my scorebook to mark down the hit, and I heard his brother said, ‘Lazar’s having a seizure,’ and I look down, he’s laying down on first base. When I saw his face, I knew it wasn’t another normal seizure.”

LaPenna shared that doctors diagnosed his son with epilepsy a few years ago. But up until the tragic incident, he was able to manage his condition with medication.

Lazar’s older brother Gerry was coaching first base when Lazar collapsed. He said that his brother braced himself before falling, and then dropped to the ground. EMTs rushed to the field and performed CPR. But they were unable to revive the child.

Since the game, LaPenna said that the community has been supporting his family. And on Monday morning, Lazar’s East School in Long Beach prepared to help students cope with the loss of their friend.

“This tragedy is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for students and staff, particularly for who are close to this family,” Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Gallagher said on Facebook. “All of our schools have a Crisis Intervention Team made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel at difficult times such as this.”

Long Island School Dedicates Remainder of Season to Little Leaguer Who Died on the Field

Gregg LaPenna remembers Lazar as a “gentle soul” who “never wanted to be alone.”

“He was a really good kid,” LaPenna shared. “He loved everything he did.”

“We’re going to keep him close to us,” he added.

Since Lazar LaPenna’s death, students have flooded the field with baseball hats in his memory. And before the game on Monday night, both teams held a moment of silence for their lost teammate.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to mother Monique, father, and coach Gregg, brothers Gerry and Blaze, and the entire LaPenna family,” league officials wrote in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this time.”

For the remainder of the sport’s season, all games will be dedicated to the LaPenna family.