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Palisades High standout soccer player Shane Thomas dies

Shane Thomas (7) was an All-City soccer player at Palisades High.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Shane Thomas, an All-City soccer player at Palisades High, died Saturday at a park in Chino while at a training session with his club team for the upcoming season. He was 17.

In an email, Jimmy Nordberg, executive director of FC Golden State, said, “We are truly saddened by his loss and our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He was found after practice away from the field and we are all devastated here at the club.”

Thomas’ sister, Cheyenne, said Thomas left the field at Ayala Park to take some balls to his coach’s car. When he did not return, teammates started a search. She said he was found unresponsive. Paramedics were called and CPR given but he could not be revived. His parents were at the park.

Temperatures reached a high of 111 at noon in Chino on Saturday, according to the weather report from timeanddate.com.

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Gabriel Morales, supervising investigator with San Bernardino County Sheriff Coroners office, said Thomas collapsed about 12:15 p.m.. He was taken by ambulance to Chino Valley Medical Center where he died at 1:13 p.m.

Morales said investigators believe his death was likely heat-related but a final determination won’t be known until an autopsy is concluded.

Thomas had recently joined the elite club team. “He was proud to be on that team,” Cheyenne said.

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Palisades coach Marvin Lemus said a former teammate of Thomas sent him a text to call him on Saturday. That’s how he learned of Thomas’ death.

“I waited a couple hours,” Lemus said. “I started crying. I didn’t want to believe it.”

Thomas scored 19 goals last season as a junior for the Dolphins and was set to be team captain this coming season.

“I know he was training, doing what he loves best,” Lemus said. “He was really excited for this season.”

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Thomas, who lived in South Los Angeles, was passionate about playing soccer. His father, John, never missed his games at Palisades, Lemus said.

“He was a genuine good, kind, gentle soul and just wanted what was best for people,” his mother, Valerie, said. “He wanted nothing more [than to be] a professional soccer player. He was in the best shape of his life. He had been training throughout the pandemic so he’d be ready.”

Cheyenne, wrote Sunday in an Instagram post: “Today, God took my soul from me, my best friend. I’m numb inside. You didn’t deserve this, but you passed right after doing what you love, playing the beautiful game. I’ve never met someone so genuine, focused, receptive, responsible, loving. You were perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better brother.”

Thomas is survived by his mother, father and sister.

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Staff writer Alexandra Wigglesworth contributed to this story.


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