Community comes together in wake of football player's death -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Community comes together in wake of football player's death

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Neighbors are still grieving the death of 18-year-old Ronald Rouse, a loss that is felt throughout the entire Hartsville community.

The senior lineman was playing in Friday's homecoming football game when he suddenly collapsed on the sidelines.

"You could tell how much he was loved by his peers by the number of people who came by the hospital," says Senator Gerald Malloy.

According to Audrey Childers, a spokeswoman for the Darlington County School District, Rouse was walking onto the field for the next defensive play. He got into his stance, but immediately stood up and signaled for a time out.

As Rouse was walking off of the field, he collapsed. Doctors, coaches, and athletic trainers all ran to his aide. They were able to revive him, but as he was walking to the sidelines he collapsed again.

"His dad said his last words to him was while he was on the sidelines. He said ‘daddy, I'm alright'," says Senator Malloy.

He was taken to the hospital, but was declared dead at 8:45 p.m.

"He was doing what he loved," says Senator Malloy. Adding, "Football was tremendously important to him and it was obvious. You could tell by his zest for the game."

An autopsy report shows Rouse died from a fatal and sudden cardiac arrhythmia. The coroner says preliminary results show it was brought on by congenital enlarged heart.

"He was real funny, outgoing. He'd make anybody laugh," says Charlie Belangia, a senior at Hartsville High School.

An account is named in honor of Ronald Rouse at the Heritage Community Bank, located at 206 South Fifth Street. Neighbors can donate money in the teen's honor to help the family pay for the unexpected funeral costs.

"The community, what we have to do in times of crisis, is come together and lift this family up. Let them know that they have support and to cherish Mr. Rouse's life. It is an outpouring of support that would make you proud in such a tragic and difficult time," says Senator Malloy.

Other businesses in the area are raising money for the cause. Ruth's Drive-In will be collecting donations at their restaurant located at 659 West Carolina Avenue.

The community is reaching out to the Rouse family, by sending thoughts, prayers and love their way. The Hartsville Police Department posted on their Facebook page, asking their Facebook friends to be continuous in prayer for the Rouse family and be mindful of their loss during this difficult time.

Mayor Mel Pennington told WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely, "We are all definitely at a great loss. We're mourning with this family. This kid gave everything to his city and teammates. I'd expect this team will dedicate this entire season to him, because he was such an integral part of the team."

"I know the family is devastated, our hearts are with the family and the team during this terrible loss," the mayor cried.

On his twitter account, the mayor later stated, "I got a text this morning from a number I didn't recognize but it resonated. It simply said: We are, Red Foxes -- We are, Rouse Foxes."

Funeral services have been set, and family and friends will come together on Wednesday, Oct. 10 in the Hartsville High School arena to memorialize Ronald Rouse. Visit Hines Funeral Home for more information about the arrangements.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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