Crisis counselors at Costa Mesa Middle School after 8th grader's death

Crisis counselors were at Costa Mesa Middle School today to help students and teachers cope with the death of an eighth grader who collapsed while playing handball after school.

Eric Valdez, 14, was playing handball with his brother and another student on campus about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when he collapsed, said Newport-Mesa Unified School District spokeswoman Laura Boss.

Costa Mesa police and paramedics tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach.

Boss said an autopsy determined he died of natural causes, but the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner's office reported that toxicology tests are still pending.

"Our thoughts are with Eric's family," Boss said. "Eric has a sibling that also attends Costa Mesa Middle School and, as a school community, we are committed to doing everything we can to assist the family during this time of tragedy."

School district officials were working with the family to determine if there will be any public services.

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