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Business says it warned customer

Identity released of man who died Saturday after match at paintball field

Posted: July 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.

A Canyon Country man who collapsed and died after playing a game similar to paintball in triple-digit temperatures Saturday was offered water and was warned about dehydration, according to the owner of the paintball facility where it happened.

“We told the guy to drink more water, but apparently he didn’t,” said Mike Schwartz, owner of Paintball USA Close Encounters.

The victim, who apparently suffered a heart attack after the game, has been identified as 48-year-old Joseph A. Flores, Lt. Cheryl MacWillie of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said Sunday.

Although an official cause of death has not been determined and no autopsy scheduled as of Sunday, circumstances suggest Flores died of a heart attack, she said.

Surviving members of the man’s family on Vista Del Canon in Canyon Country — visibly upset and silent Sunday — declined to comment on the incident.

About 4:30 p.m., deputies of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station responded to reports that a man collapsed at the Paintball USA site on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country, Lt. Bill Weiss told The Signal on Saturday.

“After a match, he collapsed,” Weiss said. “People on the scene gave him CPR prior to the ambulance responding. He had a pulse when he got to the hospital and died there.”

Flores was pronounced dead at 5:26 p.m. at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.

Temperatures in the Santa Clarita Valley reached 102 degrees Saturday.

Flores was “wearing four layers of body armor,” according to Schwartz.

The paintball company, operating in the Santa Clarita Valley for 25 years, cautions paintball participants about heat-related health problems.

“We provide iced water free of charge to our customers on hot days, an ample amount of shade in our tented picnic areas and helpful hints on how to dress,” Schwartz’s wife, April, explained in an email sent to The Signal on Sunday.

“We have phone staff providing this type of information to our customers seven days a week,” she wrote. “While taking reservations, we provide the customer with our website for further information to ensure their play is safe and even get email addresses to send them more detailed information on informative email correspondence which also allows them to ask more questions if needed.”

According to her, Flores was on a team of “adult airsofters” at Paintball USA, which also included a doctor and a male nurse.

Airsoft, like paintball, pits gun-toting participants against each other, firing tiny plastic balls that — unlike paintball — do not leave paint stains.

Unconfirmed reports indicate Flores had a stent surgically placed near his heart to maintain blood flow and that he had been playing in the heat for a number of hours Saturday.

“The man was not hydrating properly,” April Schwartz explained in her email.

“We spoke to his team leader after the incident and he professed to us that the teammates kept telling the man to drink water. He did not.

“We and our staff tell players to wet down their undershirts, etc. to stay cool as well as hydrate. We and several of our staff have been trained in CPR.”

Flores reportedly had a video camera mounted to his helmet as he was known to do and was filming his activities.

The camera stopped recording when Flores fell to the ground, according to April Schwartz.

Cardiopulmonary rescue efforts were performed on Flores, according to Schwartz and sheriff’s officials.



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