Dominick Gallegos died this week after collapsing during a soccer practice at his school, but now the father of the dead 12-year-old said the incident happened very differently than school officials described, blaming a class bully for killing his son.
Gallegos was in soccer practice at Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School, in Colton, California, when he collapsed and was taken to a hospital. He later died.
School officials told family members that Dominick collided with another student and then fell to the ground, where he lost consciousness, Fox News reported. But students who witnesses the incident describe it very differently. Dominick’s father, Joel Gallegos, reached out to a number of the boy’s friends, who said Dominick slipped and fell to the ground, and then another student kicked and stomped on Dominick’s chest, prompting the boy to pass out.
“We were playing soccer, and he slipped to the ground. Then he got stomped and kicked in the stomach,” Brian Salas, 11, told The Sun (via Fox News). “We all ran over to shake him.”
Joel Gallegos said the bully then started shaking Dominick.
“I guess the kid thought he was playing around. He started shaking him to wake up,” Gallegos said.
Salas said some teachers ran to Dominick Gallegos and tried to perform CPR, then ordered the other students to go back into the school.
Dominick’s father told KTLA that students were not supervised during the soccer practice.
“I don’t know where the teachers were,” Gallegos said. “Someone should have been watching those kids.”
Hundreds of people showed up to the school on Wednesday night for a vigil to remember Dominick Gallegos. At the event, questions remained as to exactly how an otherwise healthy boy died so suddenly.
“Everybody here is trying to do their best to support each other and work through it as the community that we are.” Katie Orloff, a spokeswoman for the Colton Joint Unified School District, told KTLA.
But a coroner’s report released Thursday seemed to support the theory that Dominick Gallegos died of natural causes, citing an enlarged heart. The report added that Dominick was declared dead within an hour of collapsing at his school.
“An autopsy performed on the body of a 12-year-old Colton boy revealed that he died of an enlarged heart and congestive cardiac failure,” ABC 7 reported. “The coroner stated in a report that there was no evidence of trauma on the body of Dominick Gallegos.”
There appear to be conflicting reports about the investigation into how Dominick Gallegos died. Police officer Todd Smith said detective had ruled out an assault or physical injury for the cause of the boy’s death, but a district spokesperson told The Sun that “the particulars of this situation are being investigated by law enforcement at this time.”
Family and friends are now coming together to support the family of Dominick Gallegos after the boy’s shocking death. A school booster club started a GoFundMe page to raise money, and in less than two days it has topped the $10,000 goal and is moving in on $13,000.
“He was a wonderful, caring, loving brother, son, student and friend,” the page read. “Dominick was going to be the next great Colton athlete. He enjoyed and excelled in sports. If you have attended any Colton community sporting events you probably have seen him play. Either Basketball at the Gonzalez gym, or Baseball at the Ken Hubbs field. Dominick was loved by all who had the pleasure in meeting him.”
The page for Dominick Gallegos has also been shared more than 3,000 times and has attracted donations and comments from people across the country.
[Image via Gallegos family]