NewsHillsborough County


Family lawyer says father warned coaches before Tampa teen collapsed, died during conditioning

Posted at 10:27 AM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 06:23:21-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County’s superintendent says he is expecting a lawsuit following the death of an incoming freshman who collapsed and died during football conditioning at Middleton High School last month.

Hezekiah Walters, 14, died after collapsing during conditioning drills for the football team in June, according to Tampa police.

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Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough’s superintendent, said an internal investigation found incomplete records and athlete clearance forms for Walters.

He also says on the day of his death, athletes were told to walk, not run, and have water breaks every 10 minutes.

According to police, the teen collapsed when the team was 30 to 40 minutes into conditioning drills, which included weightlifting, wind sprints and water breaks.

The school issued this statement in June:

"We are devastated by the death of one of our students. 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."

Eakins says the head football coach from Middleton has been removed, and the assistant principal has been demoted. Both have been moved to other schools.

He is also calling for every high school to get athletic trainers. Right now, they are at half of the schools and don't work during summer conditioning.

You can see an intent to sue from the law firm representing Walters' family here.

According to the document, on the first day of training, Hezekiah's 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 into team activities that only very experienced and prepared athletes are acclimatized to endure.

The Hillsborough County School District released the following statement and a FAQ for students and their families:

"One of our student athletes, Hezekiah Walters, tragically passed away yesterday. We continue to review the circumstances surrounding his passing and are awaiting further information from the medical examiner."