The Arizona Republic, March 4, 1998

Teen at Arizona Boys Ranch dies after collapsing during training

A teenage boy died this week during physical training at the Arizona Boys Ranch.

Nicholas Contreras, 16, of California, stopped breathing during the physical activity on Monday and was flown to Northwest Medical Center in Tucson, where he was pronounced dead, sheriff's officials said Tuesday.

The Department of Economic Security is investigating the boy's death, said Sally Hinderland of DES, which licenses the facility.

Officer Mike Minter, a spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff's Department, said the boy was in cardiac arrest when deputies arrived at 6 p.m. Ranch staff members were performing CPR.

Minter said an autopsy will be performed today.

''We have only sketchy information at this time,'' he said.

Minter said he was unaware if Contreras had a history of medical problems.

Ranch officials, including President Robert Thomas, did not return telephone calls.

The Boys Ranch houses a total of about 500 boys ages 8 to 18 at its facilities in Queen Creek, Williams, Oracle and Payson. The boys have committed all types of crimes and were placed there by courts nationwide.

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