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California student hit by softball dies on 16th birthday

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A San Diego-area high school student was struck in the chest by a softball during a physical education class, collapsed and later died at a hospital - all on his 16th birthday, officials said on Thursday.

Taylor Dorman's death on Wednesday shocked teachers and students, said Ramona High School Principal Tony Newman.

"There's a lot of emotion for us whether students know him or not - very raw and tender emotions," Newman told Reuters in a phone interview. Ramona is a community 30 miles northeast of San Diego.

Newman said Dorman was in a physical education class and playing over-the-line, a popular game related to baseball that involves fielders trying to catch a ball that is batted toward them. A softball struck Dorman in the chest as he caught it, Newman said.

"He wasn't in distress - showed no sign of injury - and he continued to play," Newman said. "About 15 minutes later, he collapsed and the teacher called 911 right away."

Paramedics arrived in a helicopter, the San Diego Medical Examiner's Office said in a statement. They found the boy had developed a heart rhythm problem, and airlifted him to a hospital, the statement said.

Once there, doctors failed in "numerous attempts to stabilize his heart rhythm" and he was pronounced dead, the Medical Examiner's Office said. The office did not give an exact cause of death, and an autopsy has not been scheduled.

It was Dorman's 16th birthday on Wednesday when he died, Newman said.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Cynthia Johnston and Andrew Hay)

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