Hillsborough County Schools (Florida) Superintendent Jeff Eakins released details on the death of 14-year-old Hezekiah Walters, according to Fox 13 News.
Walters, an incoming freshman at Middleton High School (Tampa, Florida), collapsed during conditioning drills on June 11 and died.
Eakins went into further details on what occurred on that day, the fifth of the conditioning cycle, and changes he has made and is recommending.
Coaches told athletes to walk and gave water breaks every 10 minutes, according to WFTS Tampa Bay, but multiple athletes were not properly documented or had incomplete paperwork — including Walters, according to Bay News 9.
This was the first year Hillsborough County required athletes to submit paperwork online before they would be eligible, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Walters’ paperwork was incomplete but coaches believed he had gone through a physical. Additionally, there was no documentation he had watched the mandatory video about heat-related issues, according to Fox 13 News.
The parents of Walters also warned the coaches that the 14-year-old might have some issues, as it was his first “rigorous physical training,” according to a letter the family’s attorney sent to Middleton obtained by Bay News 9.
“On the first day his father made it known to the coaching staff that Hezekiah had never participated in rigorous physical training and would need appropriate instruction, supervision and guidance while being gradually conditioned.”
About 30 to 40 minutes into training, Walters collapsed, according to WFTS Tampa Bay.
He was still breathing so coaches did not use a defibrillator, according to the Tampa Bay Times. They poured cold water on him and called 9-1-1.
When the fire department arrived shortly after, Walters was in cardiac arrest. They used a defibrillator on him and took him to the hospital, according to Fox 13 News.
Walters had a temperature of 102 degrees. He died in the hospital, according to Fox 13 News.
The assistant principal was demoted and reassigned to a different school and “will no longer be responsible for student athlete records,” Eakins said, according to Bay News 9.
The head coach was not at practice the day the incident occurred, but he had overseen previous conditioning days, Eakins said, according to Bay News 9.
He was reassigned and will not be a coach at the new school.
Eakins is recommending a greater presence in athletic trainers at football practices and conditioning drill days.
Currently, athletic trainers are not required to be at conditioning days. Some high schools in the district don’t have one on staff, according to Fox 13 News.
Walters was the third Florida high school football player in the last five years to die, according to the Tampa Bay times. There was not an athletic trainer present at any of the incidents.
Eakins would like the school board to pass a rule that would make it mandatory to have trainers at all football activities.