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Students stunned by death of Federal Way athlete on field: ‘Why? He had a whole life ahead of him’

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Friends who witnessed Allen Harris’ last moments say the 16-year-old was here one minute and gone the next.

“We heard a loud sound like ahhh and Allen falling to the ground from there, stuff started happening,” friend Poet Grayson said.

Grayson and Joey Mullarky, both football players on the varsity football team at Federal Way High School, say Allen collapsed and started to have what appeared to be a seizure.

The players say the teenager collapsed at the tail end of summer conditioning at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“It was very hot, we had water next to us, we were hydrating,” Grayson said.

The medical examiner's office has determined that Allen died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, making it hard for the heart to pump blood. Most people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have no symptoms and never know they have it.

Friends say Allen’s sudden death is shocking.

And, they say, he had a heart of gold.

“He doesn’t have a mean soul in his body, he always makes people laugh,” Mullarky said.

“Allen, if you knew him, he was just always positive vibes, good energy, always made you laugh, never never saw him mad,” Grayson said.

He worked hard on the football field and also on the dance floor.

Allen had a passion for Samoan dancing, spending countless hours practicing with the Federal Way High School Pacific Islanders Club.

“There is a lot of things to say about Allen Harris. He was the best dancer out there, he was like smiling throughout the dance,” fellow club member Alofaga Afalava said.

Afalava says the club won a competition in May and he’s never seen Allen so happy

“It was the best day of his life, I think,” Afalava said.

Going from that to now, his death is surreal.

“But why? That’s my question -- why? Why so early? He had a whole life ahead of him,” Afalava said.

It’s the same question Allen’s football friends are asking as well.

“You have to cherish your loved one at this time, tomorrow is not promised,” Grayson said.

“Don’t take anything for granted, you never know what’s going to happen,” Mullarky said.

The Federal Way Public School superintendent sent a letter to students and parents saying the district was heartsick over Allen’s loss.

The district said they have a summer safety protocol in place but for the next 72 hours they have suspended all outdoor athletic activities to review its procedures.

Football players say they are holding a vigil for Allen Thursday night at 8:35 p.m. on the football field where Allen died.

 

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