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Boy, 12, dies after collapsing during soccer camp in Holden

Joshua Thibodeau 'loved sports and was an exemplary athlete, student, and friend,' his family said in a statement. Joshua Thibodeau "loved sports and was an exemplary athlete, student, and friend," his family said in a statement.
By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / July 19, 2011

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A 12-year-old boy collapsed and died during a soccer camp at Wachusett Regional High School yesterday morning, Holden police said.

The boy was taken with his parents by Holden Emergency Medical Services to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, where he was pronounced dead about 10:45 a.m.

He was identified yesterday afternoon as Joshua Thibodeau, according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

Thibodeau was taking part in a “low-speed drill’’ with about 15 other children when he collapsed, Early’s office said in a statement.

There was no word on what caused the boy’s death. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is expected to conduct an autopsy, Early’s office said. Holden police and state troopers attached to Early’s office are investigating.

Thibodeau was the second-oldest of five children.

His family - his mother, Deb; father, Ralph; older brother Jake; and younger siblings Adam, Annabelle, and Amelia - released a statement.

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

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

“We are all broken-hearted and will forever miss our ‘moose.’

The boy was attending the Zalgiris Soccer Camp, which runs camps in Holden and Ashburnham, as well as conditioning programs, individual lessons, and a men’s summer soccer league, according to its website.

The camp has been held at Wachusett Regional High School for several years.

The camp is run by Markens Benoit, the boys’ soccer coach at Oakmont Regional High School and Jason Gaumond, the boys’ soccer coach at Wachusett. Calls to Benoit and Gaumond were not returned yesterday.

It was the first of three weeks of day camps scheduled for soccer players ages 8 to 15.

Camp was canceled for the day yesterday, but is expected to resume today.

Thomas Pandiscio, superintendent of the Wachusett Regional school district, indicated that Thibodeau was a student within the school district. He expressed his condolences to the family.

“This is a terrible tragedy,’’ he said. “We are hoping we can be supportive to the family as they deal with this tragedy in their lives.’’

Material from the Worcester Telegram and Gazette was used in this report. John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globe_guilfoil.