Known heart condition likely contributed to his passing
■ Chronicle News Staff
Students and the Menifee community at large are mourning the loss of one of their own, a high school freshman who collapsed and died during ROTC practice.
Jake Drost, 14, a student at Paloma Valley High School, died Friday, Oct. 5, after collapsing during ROTC training following a burst of running that was so fast he came out of his shoe. His father, Jeff Drost, told the Press Enterprise that his son bent over to pick up his shoe – and died. School staff members performed CPR on him before paramedics arrived, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to school officials.
Cardiac arrest is what doctors told his family was the cause of death. It happened before class when Jake was training with his ROTC unit, something his doctor had cleared him to do, according to his father. Ironically, Jake had wanted to become a cardiologist and help people like himself who had suffered from a congenital heart defect from birth. He had undergone several surgeries to repair the defect, a missing ventricle that moves blood from the heart to his lungs.
“I don’t think in my 52 years, I have met someone who had to overcome so much who had such a great outlook,” his father told the Press Enterprise. “You could not keep that kid down.”
Students quickly set up a memorial for him at the flagpole near the Paloma Valley High football field, and grief counselors at the school were made available to students and staff left in shock by Drost’s death. He was an exceptional student who got excellent grades and likely could have become the doctor he aspired to be.
Meanwhile, friends, neighbors, and the entire community of Menifee have come to the support of his family, who have one son in the Marines and another in the Army.