McDONOUGH — The Ola community was in mourning Friday as authorities scheduled an autopsy for Monday to learn more about what caused the death of a McDonough teenager hours earlier.
Henry County Schools officials confirmed the death of Jason Holland, 15, a sophomore at Ola High School in McDonough. Holland was an offensive lineman on his school’s junior varsity football team, said Ola’s principal, Ross Iddings.
“His teachers were very fond of him. They thought he was a great kid, and this is a big loss for our school,” said Iddings.
Holland died early Friday afternoon, following his hospitalization for an illness, according to J.D. Hardin, Henry’s communications specialist.
The teen died at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, according to Henry County Police Lt. Mike Ireland. Authorities were investigating reports the youth had a medical condition dating to childhood. Henry County Police Maj. Jason Bolton said the suspected condition is believed to be heart trouble, but authorities will know more following the autopsy.
Hardin said Holland had attended school Wednesday, but “apparently had an illness or medical condition” that evening.
The student was transported that night to Piedmont Henry Hospital, and later to Egleston, according to Ireland.
Ola High, located in semi-rural east McDonough, has a student enrollment of nearly 1,600 pupils this school year.
Students and faculty at the school learned of his death shortly after 1:30 p.m., Friday. Hardin said counselors and support staff were made available to students and faculty members.
“We were saddened to learn of the passing of one of our Ola High School students this afternoon,” said Hardin. “Any time we have a student pass, it is tough for everyone. As we remember this loss, our thoughts turn to the family of this young student and the Ola High School family, and we ask for the same from everyone concerned.
“He was a student first who just happened to be a football player,” said Hardin. “The tragedy is sad. [But] because he was a football player people are wanting to draw the conclusion that it’s football related. This didn’t happen during football, or immediately after football practice. This happened on into the evening. It did not happen at school.”
The Ola High football team has postponed a scrimmage against Henry County High School that was scheduled for Friday, until next Friday, Aug. 24.
Ola athletics director Curt Miller declined to comment and referred all questions to the school system. Mustangs football coach John Kovzel could not be reached for comment.
Holland is the second area football player to pass away in the past two years.
Locust Grove’s Forest Jones passed away last year, which was later learned to be heat-related.