‘Kind-hearted soul’: 14-year-old student dies during JROTC fitness competition in Broward

A 14-year-old suddenly collapsed and died Saturday morning during an event of the Junior Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or JROTC, in Broward County Public Schools.

Knox MacEwen, a JROTC cadet, died of natural causes, a Miramar Police spokeswoman confirmed to the Herald on Monday.

Paramedics at the Saturday event held at Everglades High School, 17100 SW 48th Ct., tried to resuscitate MacEwen after he lost consciousness and stopped breathing, according to an incident report from Miramar Police Department.

When Miramar Fire Rescue officers arrived at the scene, they took over the CPR efforts. Later, officers took MacEwen to Memorial Hospital Miramar at 1901 SW 172nd Ave., where he passed, the report said.

The event was the BCPS JROTC Raider Meet, which involved about 700 JROTC cadets from high schools across Broward competing in several athletic challenges in hopes of qualifying for Army JROTC State Championships.

The Broward school district couldn’t confirm which school MacEwen attended.

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However, Jimmy Arrojo, the principal of Western High School in Davie, sent an email to school parents and guardians Saturday afternoon that indicated MacEwen was enrolled as a student there.

“I am saddened to share tragic news impacting our Wildcat community,” Arrojo wrote. “One of our JROTC students passed away this morning after being transported to the hospital. I want to offer my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones, teachers, and classmates as they mourn this great loss. I ask our Wildcat community to rally around the family in prayer and support during this time of deep sorrow.”

Arrojo also mentioned grief counselors would be available on campus this week to meet with anyone who needs support.

On Facebook, Lauren Milam, who described herself as a friend of the MacEwens, posted a message promoting a GoFundMe page to “help with funeral expenses, and to allow Knox’s parents, Kevin and Julie, to take some time off of work to grieve.”

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“Knox was a kind-hearted soul, an animal lover, and has been a quiet protector of his Mama who’s been recovering from a mean battle with cancer,” she wrote. “Kevin and Julie are incredible, humble, hardworking people who I am blessed to call friends.”

“While no amount of money will take away their pain,” she continued, “it is my hope to alleviate some of the financial stress as they mourn their sudden loss.”

As of Monday afternoon, the fundraiser has already gotten nearly $59,000 through about 850 donations. If you’re interested in contributing, it’s called “Supporting the MacEwen Family.”