Student at Raymore-Peculiar H.S. suffers fatal cardiac arrest during track practice

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Ja'Leel Freeman's yearbook photo courtesy of Raymore-Peculiar School District.

Ja'Leel Freeman's yearbook photo courtesy of Raymore-Peculiar School District.

RAYMORE, Mo. -- Crisis counselors are at Raymore-Peculiar High School Thursday, helping students cope with the death of one of their classmates. 17-year-old Ja'Leel Freeman collapsed Wednesday during the school's track team practice.

The school district says the senior had been a member of the track team all four years of high school.

"It's fair to say both coaches are really shaken by a situation like this," said Kari Monsees, Raymore-Peculiar school superintendent. "But I think they are handling it admirably, they are going to work with their team to help everybody get through the situation."

Team practice had just started this week, and after running outside Wednesday, the school district says Freeman had difficulty breathing and collapsed in the locker room. Coaches performed CPR on Freeman. Paramedics say the boy was in cardiac arrest when they arrived.

Freeman was a popular student. In addition to running track, he also tutored second graders' as part of the district's A-plus program.

"It's really an unfortunate situation and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family because this type of tragedy is nothing you can ever be prepared for," Monsees said.  "I know at the high school we have extra counselors on staff this morning. They are working with the other kids on the team to try to provide support to them."

Freeman was pronounced dead at Belton Regional Hospital. Like most high school athletes, Monsees says Freeman had to undergo a physical and complete the required medical forms before participating in sports.

Freeman is being remembered as a good role model and hard worker, he was well-liked by teachers and students alike. Students and staff are mourning his death. Scroll down for messages of sympathy that some of the students have tweeted.

The district says funeral arrangements will be shared when they become available.

FOX 4's John Pepitone will have more on FOX 4 News at Noon.