HOLMDEL — The death of 16-year-old lacrosse player Jack Dowd took another heart breaking turn with the release of a letter from his family detailing the cause of death.

In a letter posted online, parents Rosaline and Sean and brother Casey explained that Jack had a condition called arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD), a condition they say is often the cause of sudden death in young people, especially young athletes.

"There was no way for us to know that Jack suffered from this and it was not something we would have ever tested for in his yearly checkups. It was also something that could have happened at any time and was not directly related to how hard he competed in his chosen sport of lacrosse, which gave us some comfort, as we struggled with the thoughts of what we could have done to prevent what happened," his parents wrote.


According to the American Heart Association, symptoms include palpitations and fainting after physical activity. Palpitations are feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering or beating too hard or too fast.

Dowd collapsed on the field at University Park on the Rutgers campus in Piscataway during a fall league game organized by Leading Edge Lacrosse.

A statement from Rutgers University spokesman Neal Buccino did not disclose what caused the student to collapse. Rutgers Police and first responders took Dowd to Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Brunswick, where he was pronounced dead. Buccino declined to identify the student.

The letter stated the family was not with their son when he died.

"Right before he collapsed, he was laughing with these friends on the sidelines, with that smile that we all loved and adored. He never regained consciousness, he never started breathing again. But he left this world with a smile on his face, and we would like to remember him that way."

Jack Dowd's father Sean is an English teacher at Holmdel High School.

According to the news site, Dowd's funeral is Friday at St. Catharine's Church in Holmdel. The church is also hosting his visitation on Thursday.

In lieu of flowers the family asked for donations to the Jack Dowd Scholarship at 36 Crawfords Corner Road in Holmdel, NJ 07733.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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