San Marcos teen dies after sleepover ‘choke hold’

Elijah Hernandez (Courtesy: Harrell Funeral Homes)
Elijah Hernandez (Courtesy: Harrell Funeral Homes)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A 17-year-old died early Sunday morning in San Marcos after he was placed in a “choke hold”, according to San Marcos police.

At around 1:27 a.m. Sunday, police officers responded to a house on Farm House Road where CPR was in progress.

Seven male and female friends – all Hays High School students – were having a sleepover at the house when a wrestling game began. Seventeen-year-old Elijah Hernandez, who went by “Eli”, and another 17-year-old were wrestling when at one point Hernandez was put in a choke hold neck restraint and told him to “tap out”. Police say Hernandez did not tap out and became unconscious. The teen then released his hold on Hernandez and the group noticed he was not breathing and his lips were turning blue.

The teens woke up the parents, 911 was called and the father immediately began CPR. Hernandez was taken to Seton Medical Center Hays where he was pronounced dead at 2:40 a.m. by a justice of the peace.

An autopsy has been ordered with Central Texas Autopsy in Lockhart. Hernandez’s parents were notified of his death at the hospital.

In a statement, Hays High School Principal David Pierce said in part, “This is a tragic occurrence – to have a young man pass away at the threshold of becoming an adult. We are reminding our students to reflect on the joy, friendship, and love he shared with us while he was alive.”

Grief counselors are available for students and employees of Hays High School. Pierce continued, “His memory and the impact he had on so many lives will live on through all of his friends, teachers, and his family.”

A release of green and white balloons was held for Hernandez at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Buda Park. “Everyone can look at Eli and just, you know, feel the love, feel the happiness he put in everyone’s heart,” a friend said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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