DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – A Dodge City wrestler died of an apparent heat stroke on Sunday, according to the Dodge City Red Demon Wrestling page.

Damian Mendez, who recently graduated, died after a run. His mother says he was wearing a sweat-suit on Saturday. He was found by friends. His mother says Damian’s internal body temperature was 107 degrees.

Damian’s parents and wrestling coach say it was never recommended to Damian to wear a sweat-suit for training purposes. However, they say that is not their main concern at this time. For now, they are all grieving the loss of one of Dodge City’s most well-beloved athletes.

“God wanted him with Him—no matter what, it was his time, and God needed him,” Lizette Garcia, Damian’s mother, said.

“Damian was an amazing friend, and an even better brother,” Damian’s teammate Joshua Gonzalez said. “Damian’s family to me. Damian will always be family.”

A lifelong athlete, Mendez participated in football, soccer and track—also making regionals for cross country.

Mendez was a three-time state wrestling champion having won titles his freshman season in 2019, finishing second his sophomore year in 2020, and then capping off two unbeaten seasons as a junior and senior in 2021 and 2022.

“He [would] go work out every day to get better and better,” Sabas Garcia, Damian’s father, said.

“I’ve never been around anyone who worked as hard or wanted it as much as he did,” Dodge City wrestling coach Tate Lowe said. “Probably goes down as one of the most dominant wrestlers in Kansas ever not giving up a single offensive point, you know, the last two years of his high school career.”

He was set to wrestle at North Dakota State University.

Lowe said players have been meeting to mourn. Grieving family members tell us they are still shocked and those who knew him say he was one of a kind.

“I first met Damian when he was six or seven, and I think he thought wrestling was WWE, and just to see that competitive nature of him, I’ve never been around a high school wrestler with that drive, and I don’t think I’ll ever be around another high school wrestler with that drive ever again,” Lowe said.

Lowe says the impact of Mendez’s death has been felt across Kansas.

“The influence he had on how many coaches and, and just wrestlers from all over the state have been texting and sending their love and, and, Damian was everyone’s—he loved the wrestling community, and it’s nice to know that other people loved him as well,” he added.

Lowe posted this statement on Facebook Monday:

Heaven gained a champion last night. Damian Mendez passed away late last night due to heat stroke. He is probably challenging all the angels to some grind matches right now. There are no right words to say in a time like this. If you need to talk or just want to share stories and cry, I will be at my house 1404 circle lake drive all day and anyone is welcome to come by at anytime. RIP champ! We love you.

Coach Lowe

The Red Demon team set up a meal train to bring the family food. If you would like to help support his family you can click here.

Dodge City High School said they have lost two seniors from the class of 2022 in the last few weeks and offered tips for students to cope with the grief.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Mendez. click here.

The CDC says a heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death if the person does not receive emergency treatment.

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Fatal if treatment delayed

Take the following steps to treat a person with heat stroke:

  • Call 911 for emergency medical care.
  • Stay with the worker until emergency medical services arrive.
  • Move the worker to a shaded, cool area and remove outer clothing.
  • Cool the worker quickly, using the following methods:
  • With a cold water or ice bath, if possible
  • Wet the skin
  • Place cold wet cloths on the skin
  • Soak clothing with cool water
  • Circulate the air around the worker to speed cooling.
  • Place cold wet cloths or ice on the head, neck, armpits, and groin; or soak the clothing with cool water.