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Boy, 14, collapses and dies after overheating at football practice

By Adriana Navarro, AccuWeather staff writer
June 14, 2019, 9:04:58 AM EDT

Athlete fatality

Hezekiah Walters, a high school freshman, collapsed and died after running sprints and doing football drills amid heat on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (Facebook/Felix Eugene Walters)


A high school student died Tuesday evening in Tampa, Florida, after collapsing during football drills earlier that day amid sweltering heat, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Tampa police said 14-year-old Hezekiah Walters, an incoming freshman at Middleton High School, had been participating in a preseason football conditioning session for about 30 to 40 minutes when he collapsed around 4 p.m. EST. The session had included weightlifting, wind sprints and one water break.

The temperature at the time was 88 degrees Fahrenheit with a RealFeel Temperature of 94, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.

The teen began throwing up and had a seizure after running sprints and doing football drills, according to Bay News 9. Witnesses called 911 and performed CPR.

Hezekiah Walters

The 14-year-old Tampa high school student Hezekiah Walters died Tuesday, June 11, 2019, after collapsing during a preseason football workout session. When first responders arrived, his body temperature was at 102 degrees. (GoFundMe/Lori Kressley Bartholomew)


Walters had a body temperature of 102 degrees and was in cardiac arrest by the time first responders arrived, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Department report released Thursday.

Heatstroke typically occurs when someone's body temperatures rises to 104 degrees or higher. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600 people in the U.S. die from extreme heat-related incidents each year, and there have been 30 heat-related college football player deaths from 2000 to 2018 according to the American Council on Science and Health.

Looking at data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research reports from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, there has been a total of 148 heat stroke cases that resulted in death from 1960 through 2018. The report says 90% of the recorded heat stroke deaths occurred during practice.

According to the same data, 47 high school players have died from 1995 through 2018, making up the majority of the 64 players who had died in that time frame.

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The Hillsborough County School District has responded to the incident by stopping all athletic activities until its schools direct every coach to review the appropriate safety procedures and coaches review student records to ensure their eligibility to participate in athletic activities.

According to the report, Walters did not suffer from any known medical issues besides allergies, for which he may have been taking B-6 and B-12 vitamins.

This case comes about a year after the heatstroke-related death of the University of Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair. Much like Walters, McNair had been at a preseason workout when he had collapsed amid sweltering heat.

A GoFundMe campaign was started on Wednesday with a goal of $5,000 to help aid the Walters family with funeral expenses. As of 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, the campaign was at $4,630, nearly reaching its goal.

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