Woodland Hills high school student dies of fentanyl overdose and community rallies around his family

A high school baseball player from Woodland Hills has died from a fentanyl overdose, and his classmates are mourning his death. Cade Kitchen, a 17-year-old student at El Camino Real Charter High School, died of fentanyl poisoning last week and the school leaders sent a letter to the community Thursday, Oct. 6, announcing his death.

“It is with great sadness that I inform you that one of our 17-year-old students passed away last night. This tragic incident was the result of a fatal Fentanyl overdose,” a school official wrote to the school’s families. “As a father and a parent, I cannot fathom the loss of a child. My heart breaks to know that an El Camino student will not be with us tomorrow. On behalf of the El Camino Real community, our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”

Cade Kitchen was a senior. He played lower-level baseball his freshman and sophomore years but stepped away from the program to pursue other interests before his junior year.

“Cade was an outstanding young man and a pleasure to coach,” El Camino Real baseball coach Josh Lienhard said. “An outstanding teammate as well. The Kitchen family is one of the best families I have had the pleasure of being around and have in the ECR baseball program.”

The Kitchen family has been part of the El Camino Real program and local baseball community for a long time. Cade’s older brother, Cole, played baseball at ECR, too.

“Cade was a very kind-hearted kid. He was friendly with everyone, always had a smile on his face and was so incredibly smart,” former ECR classmate and baseball player Josh Klein said. “My sophomore year he was a freshman and we had Honors Algebra 2 together. At baseball study hall he would help me with whatever I was struggling with. This is a tragic story of a kind and intelligent soul taken far too soon. Cade was a really great kid.”

Klein, like Cade, also had an older brother, Joey Klein, play baseball at El Camino Real before him.

“Losing a loved one is sad enough, but losing a child is beyond agonizing,” said Dan Klein, father of Joey and Josh. “Our hearts, and those of the community that we’re all part of, ache for Risa, John and their close-knit family.”

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, seven local teens have overdosed on fentanyl.

El Camino Real school officials, in their letter to parents, urged them, “If you have questions or concerns about your child and feel s/he might need additional support, please contact the school” at its counseling service. “We have also included a link from Children’s Hospital LA that you may find useful when talking to your children about death or traumatic loss and grief.”

The community has rallied around the school and the family, and a GoFundMe page has been established to raise money for Kitchen’sfamily where well-wishers can donate.

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The circumstances surrounding Kitchen’s death have not been made public.

The tragedy at the Woodland Hills high school, which is not part of LAUSD, follows the death of a 15-year-old girl found dead in a bathroom at LAUSD’s Bernstein High School in Hollywood, who overdosed on fentanyl on Sept. 13.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials recently voted to provide school campuses with Narcan, or Naloxone, a drug that counteracts a fentanyl overdose and can save students’ lives.

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