Dunbar family remembers D’Iberville football player 11 years after death on field

Latrell Dunbar was playing for the D’Iberville High football team when he collapsed during a 2011 game. He received CPR on the field but died of cardiac arrest.
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 10:28 PM CST
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D’IBERVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - Damar Hamlin’s critical condition after collapsing on the football field Monday night is bringing back tragic memories for one Coast family.

Latrell Dunbar was playing for the D’Iberville High School football team when he collapsed during a game in 2011. He received CPR while on the field but died of cardiac arrest.

Steven Ramsey was a volunteer coach for the team and still remembers the day when Dunbar collapsed on the field.

“While we were out on the field, we could tell he was in distress. He took a deep breath, so we knew everything wasn’t alright,” Ramsey said.

It was a night that both his coach and mom will never forget.

“There’s not a handbook that coaches have that tells you ‘Hey, if a player falls down a field this is what you do.’ There’s nothing to prepare you for that,” Ramsey said.

“Within seconds, total quietness and people running telling us, ‘We think that’s your child on the field,’” Pheon Dunbar, Latrell’s mother, said.

While Latrell is remembered as a star on his team, those closest to him said he was more than that. Eleven years later, friends and family still look back fondly on Latrell’s positive spirit.

“He would honestly give you the shirt on his back... and to lose that kid was tough,” Ramsey said.

“He would do anything to get on that field, even if we told him if his grades weren’t holding up we would take him off the team,” Dunbar said. “He was going to do whatever it took to get on that field because he really enjoyed football.”

With years passing by since his death, Ramsey and Dunbar said their faith and their community have helped them to move forward from the tragedy.

“God has a purpose and place for everything,” Ramsey said. “We may not understand what it is right now, and we got to trust and know that God is going to take care. In due time everything will be revealed to us.”

“Just to hear how much they loved him and how much joy he brought to them in their life, it gave us that comfort to know that everything was going to be ok,” Dunbar said.

Latrell Dunbar’s family said they would like for all schools to make sure their defibrillators are working and make sure to have a protocol in place to prevent another tragedy like this from happening again.

If someone goes into cardiac arrest, doctors and medical professionals recommend performing CPR until help can arrive.

Dr. Matthew Hann with Memorial Hospital said learning CPR could be the difference between life and death in an emergency.

“Chest compressions saves lives. I’ve had several patients that had bystander CPR from untrained family members and they survived a hospital discharge,” Hann said. “So chest compressions saves lives.”

Hann encourages everyone to take CPR classes to be prepared just in case of an emergency.

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