A 10-year-old boy is dead after unexpectedly collapsing during one of his Little League baseball games on Long Island late last week.
Lazar LaPenna, a fourth grader at East School in Long Beach, New York, “passed away suddenly” last Friday while he was playing a baseball game. His death came one day after he celebrated his 10th birthday. Now, tributes are pouring in as the community rallies around his mourning family.
LaPenna’s death was first announced earlier this week, after Dr. Jennifer Gallagher, the Superintendent of Long Beach Public Schools, released a letter to the community via social media. In it, the district leader wrote:
“It is with deep regret that we inform you about a tragedy in our school community. Yesterday, Lazar LaPenna, one of our fourth-grade students at East School, passed away suddenly at a baseball game. I know that the extended La Penna family is well-known in our community and that many of you have likely already heard about this terrible loss. This tragedy is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for students and staff, particularly for those who are close to this family.”
So, so sad.
In a subsequent interview with WABC, Lazar’s father Gregg LaPenna (pictured above) revealed that his late son had been diagnosed with epilepsy some years before. During his Lido Little League baseball game last Friday, Gregg told the outlet, Lazar “experienced a seizure episode” on the field after hitting the ball and reaching first base. The heartbroken father explained:
“The last moment I saw was him standing on first, and he turned to me with a smile. 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.”
In a separate interview with Newsday, Gregg called his son a “deep soul,” and explained more about the boy’s outlook even after the epilepsy diagnosis:
“He knew his life was limited, but he always spoke about the future. He was a special kid.”
Lazar’s brother Gerry LaPenna added:
“He was a really good kid. He loved everything he did.”
According to Gregg, Lazar had enthusiastically celebrated his 10th birthday the day before the tragedy. The mournful father further reported that birthday presents “are still arriving in the mail” for the boy in the days after his death.
Our hearts break…
Moved by the boy’s life, the New York Mets shared their own tribute to him this week. The MLB club left three bats poignantly arranged outside of their clubhouse during a game several days ago, and shared their condolences over the loss of the young Mets fan on Twitter (below):
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 3, 2022
Here is more on Lazar’s death, and the outpouring of support in the days after:
Our hears go out to Lazar’s family, friends, and loved ones.
Such an awful, unimaginable situation.