Surprise police say that a 17-year-old Valley Vista High School football player was playing “Fugitive,” a live-pursuit game popular among teens, late Saturday when he fell from the bed of a pickup truck and died several hours later.
Andrew Arellanes, a junior, was pronounced dead at an area hospital early Sunday.
Arellanes was expected to be the starting quarterback next season.
His fatal fall occurred while he and other members of the Valley Vista football team were playing a “cops and robbers” style game played Valley-wide, especially among football players, police said.
Teams split up into groups of “fugitives” and “police,” according to law-enforcement officials.
The “fugitives” run away while the “police” chase them in vehicles.
On Saturday night, Arellanes and others in the truck were chasing runners, friends said.
“If we can learn from this, it’s that playing games with people standing or being in the back of a truck is very dangerous,” Surprise police Sgt. Mike Donovan said. “Being in the back of a (moving truck) is not safe.”
Mourners gathered for a vigil Sunday, seeking comfort in the face of the unexpected loss.
Friends and schoolmates filled Twitter pages with hundreds of tweets.
“He was a good kid,” said Dalvin Richardson, who was the school’s quarterback this year. “All I heard was positive things about him.”
Crisis counselors were on hand at Valley Vista High on Monday, and “safe rooms” had been set aside for students to grieve or celebrate Arellanes’ life.
“Any time we have any kind of tragedy like this, it always has a big effect on students and staff,” Dysart Unified School District spokesman Jim Dean said.
The truck was going the speed limit at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday near 146th Drive and Port Royale Lane when Arellanes fell, Donovan said.
The speed limit was between 25 and 35 mph, Donovan said.
There were no reports that the football players were impaired, he said.
When the police finish investigating, they will forward the report to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which would determine whether charges are warranted, Donovan said.
12 News reporter Lissette Martinez contributed to this article.