SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — The University of Southern California Thursday was mourning the death of a freshman water polo player who died from a heart attack earlier this week.
Jon Walters, who helped the team clinch its sixth consecutive NCAA title last month, passed away Wednesday at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.
The 19-year-old Newport Beach resident fell into a coma on New Year’s Day and had been battling pneumonia and kidney failure before suffering a fatal heart attack, Walters’ father, Bill, told the Orange County Register.
Walters said his son was improving as of Friday, but died just days later.
CBS2’s Cristy Fajardo reports that Walters’ exact cause of death hasn’t been determined. Initially, the coroner’s office was not going to conduct an autopsy, but after doctors were not comfortable signing Walters’ death certificate, an autopsy will be done.
“Jon was a great Trojan, and an outstanding young man from a wonderful family. He and his family were loved by all of us on the USC water polo team. I am deeply saddened, and I speak for our team in saying that this is a terrible loss of a friend and teammate. Our prayers go out to Jon’s family in hopes that they find comfort,” USC head water polo coach Jovan Vavic said.
The Trojan family took to Twitter to react to the young player’s death.
Walters, who was a Mater Dei High School graduate, scored 17 goals during the 2013 season.
He is survived by his parents, three brothers and a sister.
“He’s my biggest hero,” Walters’ brother, James, said. “He should be remembered as a good friend, a loving kid, an awesome athlete.”
James, who had planned to play water polo with Walters when he attends USC next year, said nothing could keep his brother from the water.
“He broke his arm and that was tough for him, he had to fight through it, and it still didn’t stop him,” James said.