12-Year-Old Boy Dies At Soccer Camp In Holden

By Ken MacLeod, WBZ-TV

HOLDEN (CBS) – It was the very first day of the well-known Zalgiris soccer summer camp, and the youngsters were all gung-ho.

None of them could have been prepared for what they’d witness.

It was just before 10 o’clock, when 12-year-old Josh Thibodeau collapsed on the field during a drill, and never got up.

Both of his brothers were nearby.

“People didn’t really believe it at first,” says soccer player Pat Myers, a family friend. “They thought it was a rumor — but it was real.”

“It’s shocking. It’s tragic.” adds friend Dan Diggins. “I’m so sorry for the Thibodeau family.”

WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports

The main fire station is right across the street from Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, so EMTs were on the scene within a minute or so.

Thibodeau’s parents were summoned by cell phone, and arrived in time to see their unconscious boy being loaded into the ambulance.

Josh was pronounced dead less than hour later at the UMass Medical Center.

“I actually cried when I heard about it,” says soccer mom Rose Dunn. “I don’t know the boy personally but it hits close to home when you also have a son at camp.”

A swarm of relatives and friends gathered at the Thibodeau house on Highland Street in Holden, trying to console each other.

The youngster’s parents and four siblings released a handwritten statement thanking those who tried to save him, and describing the Josh they knew.

“Josh was a kind-hearted, caring and loving son and brother,” the statement reads.

“His smile lit up our world. Josh was fun!”

But the family’s statement provides absolutely no insight — medical or otherwise — into what may have gone wrong on that field.

“I can’t physically imagine what they’re going through right now,” says Rose Dunn. “It’s so sad.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports

As high school summer leaguers took to the same field Monday night, the morning tragedy still dominated the discussion among parents who came out to watch their sons.

Paul James of Paxton was among them.

“You can’t chain your kids up at home,” James says shaking his head. “They’ve gotta live their life and be active — and have fun. There’s risk in everything you do.”

And on that point, almost every parent agreed.

“You send your child off in the morning, hoping they’ll learn some life skills and have some fun,” offers Worcester City Councilor Rick Rushton. “You just hope at the end of the day they’ll be coming home to your safe arms.”

12-year-old Josh Thibodeau will not be.

The medical examiner has scheduled an autopsy in an effort to answer the question “Why?”

Thibodeau’s parents released this statement early Tuesday morning:

“Josh’s family would like the thank the Holden Police Department, Fire Department, and ER team at UMass for trying so hard to save our precious son’s life.

Josh was a kindhearted, caring, and loving son and brother. His smile lit up our world as well as his light- hearted, and borderline goofy personality. Josh loved sports and was an exemplary athlete, student, and friend. Josh was fun!

We are broken-hearted and will forever miss our ‘Moose.’

We beg that the media respect our privacy at this impossible time in our lives.

Deb, Ralph, Jake, Adam, Annabelle, and Amelia Thibodeau”

More from Ken MacLeod
  • Joeyanna Colton- O

    So sad. My heart and prayers go out to the family.

  • jackie blue

    I recently viewed the broadcast of this story and was sadden to see the monicker “Camp Death.” In heading the report with this name, you pronounced judgement on the camp and diminished the good work that they camp may have done. Simply reporting the story was good enough.

    My sympathy to the family and compassion to the players.


  • belle

    Did this boy have any health problems to begin with?? Asthma or a heart condition?
    This is so scary and so sad. That is two young boys who have died in the past week at a camp. So sad

  • Lori

    Not always but a good majority of the time when you hear sad stories like this it is more often then not caused by Porlonged (or Shortened) QT Syndrome. It is linked to SIDs through an Italian study done YEARS ago. I implore every family to have their infants given an EKG before you leave the hospital. If you have kids of ANY age AND you have a history of SIDs OR Sleep Apnea in your family… have an EKG done to your child. I have SIDs on both sides of my family and my Mom has Sleep Apnea so I have had an EKG given to ALL my kids. My oldest had Prolonged QT Syndrome & was sent home with a monitor. Muy second child had a hole in his heart and my third & fourth child were fine at birth. my third child now has a heart murmur, just like me.PLEASE get an EKG done on your kids!!!

    My DEEPEST condolences to this family in their time of grief.

  • Lori

    That is terrible Tony. You should be ashamed of yourself but you probably won’t be. That was uncalled for and wholly inappropriate. I hope nothing ever happens to your kid (if someone was stupid enough to have one with you.)

  • http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/07/19/da-boy-who-died-at-soccer-camp-had-no-known-medical-condition/ DA: Josh Thibodeau, Boy Who Died At Holden Soccer Camp, Had No Known Medical Condition « CBS Boston

    […] addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "{{title}} {{url}}" } }; }HOLDEN (CBS) – A boy who collapsed at a soccer camp and later died did not have any known medical condition, authorities said […]

  • Cindy Murphy

    My 14 year old son is currently in Children’s Hospital after going into Cardiac Arrest on June 18th while on his way to the Bruins Parade. It’s been a month now and the cardiologists still have NO answer to why this happened. They’ve ruled out everything possible, although they are still waiting for one test to come back regarding genetics. My son was a healthy, athletic boy who had no previous complications at all. My son now has severe brain damage and is still in a coma like state. This makes no sense. I was devastated to read this story and feel so bad for Joshua’s family. My heart goes out to them deeply.

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