Florida Teen Collapses, Dies during High School Football Practice

A 14-year-old athlete from Florida collapsed while performing conditioning activities in school. He reportedly vomited and had a seizure prior to collapsing and was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

The family of a teenager from Florida may have difficulty accepting his fate. He died on Tuesday while training on school grounds.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES AROUND WALTERS' DEATH ACCORDING TO INITIAL REPORTS

Athlete Hezekiah Walters was doing conditioning drills with his teammates on the football field of Middleton High School in Tampa when he suddenly collapsed to his death. According to news outlets, he was 20 minutes into their workout when he fell to the ground and lost consciousness.  He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital but was pronounced dead there. 

Emergency personnel who attended to him at St Joseph’s Hospital detected no heart activity when he arrived and noted his temperature at 102 degrees.

The cause of his death has not been determined. It’s unclear if the 88-degree temperature with a heat index of 97 degrees at 4 pm, the time he collapsed had anything to do with his death or an underlying medical condition triggered it. 

MORE DETAILS EMERGE

Later reports suggest Walter was performing running sprints and ladder drills for speed and agility for about 20 minutes when he reportedly vomited and suffered a seizure. He had taken one water break prior to his collapse. 

Emergency personnel who attended to him at St Joseph’s Hospital detected no heart activity when he arrived and noted his temperature at 102 degrees.  He was administered two rounds of defibrillation and three rounds of epinephrine by paramedics shortly after picking him up from school in response to a 911 call.  

"This student was an amazing young man who was loved by his friends, teachers and staff at school."

THE SCHOOL'S RESPONSE

Hillsborough County Public Schools spokeswoman, Tanya Arja issued a statement in light of the loss of Walters. 

“We are devastated by the death of one of our students,” she wrote. "This student was an amazing young man who was loved by his friends, teachers and staff at school. He was taking part in conditioning and weight lifting with other athletes and coaches when he collapsed. The coaches immediately called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital. We were heartbroken to hear the news that he later passed away."

As a result of the incoming freshman’s death, a directive was sent to all public schools of Hillsborough County to temporarily cease conditioning exercises and athletic activities. It also reiterated the compliance of two major requirements prior to the resumption of these activities. One is that coaches review all safety procedures for training, and the other is a thorough evaluation of student athlete’s records to ensure they are capable of participating in these sports activities. 

Meanwhile, Walters' family has not been available for comment and merely requested privacy at this time. 

According to a 2017 report by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, nine out of 13 football-related deaths that year was a result of heatstroke and cardiac arrests from exertion. It also states these deaths can be prevented with proper management of hydration.

ANOTHER TEEN DIES SIMILARLY TO WALTER A DAY EARLIER

Walters’ death is similar to that of a teen in metro Atlanta who collapsed and died after summer workouts. More importantly, it happened just a day before Walters suffered the same fate. 

Eylse Purefoy was running on her school track when she lost consciousness. Her father believes her death was due to extreme exhaustion which is also a suspect in Walters’ case. 

IS HEAT THE CULPRIT?

According to a 2017 report by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, nine out of 13 football-related deaths that year was a result of heatstroke and cardiac arrests from exertion. It also states these deaths can be prevented with proper management of hydration.

If Walters’ death is proven to be heat-related, this should be a wake-up call to schools and families to ensure their students are properly equipped to train and are given the necessary care to prevent dehydration and its resulting grave dangers.