Boy, 12, Dead After Collapsing During No-Contact Football Practice: ‘He Was So Happy to Be There’

A sixth-grade boy from New Jersey was running drills at football practice when he collapsed and later died at a local hospital.

Elijah Jordan Brown-Garcia, a student at KIPP Rise Academy in Newark, New Jersey, became unresponsive during the practice for Essex County Predators on Feb. 10, his family told News 12 in New Jersey.

“He was so happy to be there. He didn’t know that it was going to be his last day, his mother Raven Brown told the outlet, adding of the practice, “No contact. It was just drills, running back and forth. He didn’t get hit. He was a healthy kid…I don’t know why Friday night was his day.”

She added that her younger son, 10, who was at practice with Elijah called her and told her he had collapsed and was unresponsive.

She recalled, “I said, ‘What are they doing? What is anybody doing?’ And he said, ‘They are pouring water on him, and they are fanning him.’ And that’s when I got my kids together and I said, ‘I’m on my way.’ “

Raven said she “beat the ambulance there” after those on-site called for an ambulance twice. Raven also called for paramedics.

She said it took the ambulance “like 20 to 30 minutes” to arrive. “It took them a long time.”

Once an ambulance did arrive, Elijah was rushed to University Hospital. He died shortly after.

CPR was allegedly not performed on Elijah while on the field. Raven told News 12, “When the coach called me yesterday…[he said,] ‘Sorry, none of us are CPR-certified.”

“They are neglectful. You can’t run a team like that,” Raven, who is considering legal action, added.

Elijah’s team, Essex County Predators, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request cor comment.

Reflecting on what she misses most about her late son, Raven shared, “I miss his face. I miss him dancing…I just miss him. I miss everything about him.”

I’m numb right now. I’ve been crying, Raven told CBS2. She said that Elijah, who is her oldest son, was at Westside Park with his 10-year-old brother when he collapsed.

She added that the coach is now making it a priority that everyone will be CPR-certified.

Raven has also started a GoFundMe and raised $21,931 for Elijah’s memorial services, surpassing its goal of $10,000.

“Elijah was an outgoing, loving young kid,” said Raven. “He loved dancing and football and loved his family. He made sure everyone was comfortable with his infectious smile. He loved going to school and he loved his friends.”

Speaking about his final moments, Elijah’s mother added, “At a young tender age of 12, Elijah passed away playing football, doing what he loved. No amount is too small.”

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Elijah’s school called him a “kind, outgoing student who was a friend to all,” per NBC News.

“Elijah will be deeply missed by our KIPP students, families and educators,” said a school spokesperson.

KIPP Rise Academy did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

A memorial and balloon release will be held in Elijah’s honor on the field where he died Saturday, Essex County Predators shared in a tribute Instagram post dedicated to Elijah.

Our Hearts are crushed and our condolences screams out to the family of our very own Elijah E2 Brown We love You,” the team wrote.