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Tributes pour in for 12-year-old boy
Tributes pour in for 12-year-old boy
By SUE HOFFMAN
Creative, outgoing and energetic were the ways Orchard Middle School teacher Scott Stuart described Stephen Jiang, the 12-year-old who died Aug. 19 after collapsing on a soccer field.
Mr. Stuart, who was Stephen's teacher last year, said he was also a "creative problem solver. He was a talented writer and he loved math," he said.
"He read voraciously, and that was reflected in his conversation," Mr. Stuart said. "He was popular with the kids. He was always reading, or teaching everyone origami," either jumping frogs or circles that would fold into a hexagon. "There was never a down moment with him," he said.
"The amount of energy that he had, I would have thought there would never be anything that could take him," Mr. Stuart said. "There are a lot of good things to keep a smile on my face, even though it hurts."
Stephen would have started seventh grade at Solon Middle School this week. His life ended tragically after he collapsed during soccer practice at the Donald N. Payne Recreation Complex in Glenwillow.
According to the Glenwillow Police Department, police Sgt. David Revlock and a doctor on the scene administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation and were able to restore breathing. A Solon rescue squad arrived and continued giving medical treatment while awaiting a medical helicopter. Stephen died after being transported to Metrohealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
Stephen died of natural causes, said Powell Caesar, director of public affairs for the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office. Tentative cause of death was a defective left coronary artery, he said. Stephen was otherwise "healthy with no allergies," he said.
Such occurrences "happen from time to time with young athletes," Mr. Caesar said. "It's a sad situation."
On the soccer field, "there was nothing at practice to indicate anything would happen," said Philip Sattele, of Solon, the head coach of the Solon Strikers traveling soccer team for Stephen's age group. "Soccer is a contact sport," and the season lasts from August to June, he said. "I never saw him fall down."
Stephen collapsed during a sprint at the end of practice, said Mr. Sattele, who had coached him since he was 10. "This would have been his fourth year." He said he typically played forward.
Stephen was an enthusiastic soccer player, Mr. Sattele said. "Soccer was his thing. He was always at practice and always at games. He always had a good attitude and was well liked by his teammates. It's a difficult time for everyone."
As a tribute, all of his teammates will wear Stephen's No. 6 on their soccer shoes. They also will start off the soccer season with special T-shirts with No. 6 on the front.
About 25 teammates and several players from the team that's a year older attended Stephen's funeral Aug. 23 at Tabone-Komorowski Funeral Home in Solon, Mr. Sattele said. "It was a great show of support." All of the players wore their team shirts, as requested by the family, and Stephen's team shirt from last year was in his casket.
Approximately 800 people attended the funeral. Services were conducted in Chinese, with an interpreter. All who attended received paper carnations.
Mr. Sattele said Stephen's collapse on the field was difficult for the boys. Fortunately, parents were arriving to pick up their sons and helped with the situation, he said.
Jon Shane, Solon soccer travel teams director, said, "You just feel for these lovely people. Our whole concern, all of our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his mother and father, and certainly all of the other boys in the program. He was their classmate, their teammate, their family. It was just a tragedy. All teams, and this transcends specific sports, jell and become a family unit. I don't care if it's a two-man tennis team or a 40-man football team. To lose one member like this is completely beyond words."
Friends have expressed their sorrow on a Facebook site established by Stephen's close friend Ivan Liu, who recently moved with his family to Atlanta. Ivan also wrote a letter about Stephen that was read at the funeral.
Stephen is survived by his parents, James Jiang and Hong Shen, and brother, Michael, a 2008 Solon High School graduate attending Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The Jiangs have established a memorial fund for Stephen through the Solon School District.
"The Jiang family is so appreciative of all of the offers of help, support and donations," said Tamara Strom, coordinator of communications for the district. "After a good deal of thought, the family decided to start a memorial fund through the Solon Schools."
She said the family will be determining how the funds will be distributed, such as through awards or scholarships. "James Jiang said he knows he will want it to go to other students who exhibit the same types of attributes and interests as Stephen," she said.
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