Carol Hardemon has been training children to be track stars for nearly half a century.
On Wednesday, the coach had to contend with something she’s never had happen: the death of an 11-year-old boy, who collapsed on the track during warmups at the Metro-Dade Track Club practice at Miami Northwestern Senior High School.
Miami Fire Rescue said Kaleb Harris wasn’t breathing when they got there. He was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died later that night. The cause of his death was not made public Thursday.
Hardemon said nothing like this has happened in the 48 years since she founded the popular track club, which isn’t affiliated with Miami-Dade Parks. .
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“I’ve been known to be a tough person,” she said. “This has shaken me to my core. The other volunteers, they’re taking it really hard, too.”
On Thursday, Hardemon said they were meeting with the runners.
“We want to speak to the kids, let them talk about whatever they want to talk about,” Hardemon said. “Monday, we’ll take a lap around the track for Kaleb and release some balloons.”
Kaleb’s grandmother, Susie Pounds, posted a smiling selfie of her and Kaleb on Facebook late Wednesday night. Kaleb was the only son of Pounds’ daughter, Renae Peters.
The flag at Kaleb’s school, Florida International Academy, was lowered to half-mast Thursday.
Kaleb played football previously. Hardemon said he had just joined his younger sister at the track club two weeks ago and the other kids spoke highly of him.
“Always spoke very well, wasn’t ill-mannered at all,” Hardemon said. “Very respectful.”