Parents of teen who died of sudden cardiac arrest turn tragedy into outreach

Eric Parades' parents organize health screenings

SAN DIEGO - The parents of a teenager who died from sudden cardiac arrest are turning their tragedy into an outreach for other families.

Being a wrestler and a football player, getting checked out by a doctor is not new for 14-year-old Reese Prefontaine. This time, he was being screened for heart problems.

His mother Mary brought him to Torrey Pines High School on Sunday after hearing about Eric Paredes, who died from sudden cardiac arrest in 2009. Eric was inside his family's home when he collapsed.

Like Reese, Eric was physically healthy, played years of football and wrestled.

"I just thought my heart went out to her," said Mary Prefontaine. "And I thought this could be my child, and if I could prevent something happening to them, I would do anything for my kids."

Since Eric's death, his parents have organized health screenings and raised awareness about this quiet condition that is the cause of death for about 7,000 young people each year.

Sunday's event at Torrey Pines High School had their highest turnout yet. More than 800 people signed up to get tested.

Rhina Paredes, Eric's mother, told 10News, "I feel that this happened to us and I know it was a horrible tragedy in our lives, but we have to make something positive out of it and preventing other kids from what happened to Eric." 

More than 1,000 students were screened. Twenty of them had heart abnormalities and of those, three were found to be at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. They will follow up with their doctors for more conclusive testing.

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