Grief counselors at Castaic High after student death

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: Students and parents walk through campus at Castaic High School's first Back to School Night Tuesday. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Grief counselors were at Castaic High School Wednesday after a 16-year-old student died in his home Tuesday.  

“A student did unexpectedly pass away last night, and we have counselors at Castaic High School already that are available for grief counseling indefinitely … for students and staff,” said Dave Caldwell, public information officer with the William S. Hart Union High School District. “It is always tragic to lose a student, and our hearts and condolences go out to his family and friends.” 

Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel responded to Nathan Esparza’s Castaic home just after 5 p.m. for a reported cardiac arrest, according to Supervisor Franklin Lopez.  

Esparza was pronounced dead at the home, and his cause of death is pending investigation, according to L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. 

Esparza was one of Castaic High School’s original football team members, joining as a freshman, according to football coach Tony Uebelhardt. 

“He was one of my original 14 kids that started the program at Castaic,” Uebelhardt said. “He was a great kid … happy-go-lucky.” 

Though quiet, Esparza was the “keep it loose” guy the team needed, and players all gravitated toward him, Uebelhardt added. 

It was a tough day for Castaic’s football team as they gathered at practice Wednesday to be there for one another through this difficult time, according to Uebelhardt. 

“As close as a football team gets, it hits harder,” he added. 

GoFundMe has been created for Esparza’s family, in which organizer Vanessa De La Rosa describes Esparza as a “sweet, caring, goofy young soul that left us too soon.”  

“Today is a very sad day for many,” De La Rosa wrote in the GoFundMe. “A son, brother, grandson, nephew, teammate and friend has left us all behind with heavy hearts. … This unexpected and sudden loss is hard on all of us.” 

Counselors are available at the school should anyone need to work through their grief, according to Caldwell. 

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