NewsHillsborough County


Petitions asking for full-time athletic trainers gain traction after Tampa teen's death

Hezekiah Walters collapsed during football drills
Posted at 5:22 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 18:32:48-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla. –– Petitions demanding change are gaining traction online after a Tampa teen collapsed during football practice and died.

These petitions detail the way one hire could save lives.

In mid-June, 14-year-old Hezekiah Walters collapsed during summer conditioning drills at Middleton High School. Records show his body temperature was 102 degrees. One Tampa Bay area man believes having trained medical staff during practice could have saved his life.

RELATED: Tampa teenager collapses, dies on football field during drills, police say

Two petitions are attracting parent's attention pleading for a full-time athletic trainer at every public school.

"In this day and age, you wouldn't drop off your child at the pool without having a lifeguard. Same thing you shouldn't drop off your kid for practice without having a trainer on site." " said Lloyd Knudson, an athletic trainer.

Knudson penned a petition addressed to Polk County Public Schools shortly after Hezekiah's death.

A map created by the Korey Stringer institute's ATLAS program demonstrates the lack of full-time athletic trainers in the Tampa Bay area. Pasco County is the only one with such trained staff in every school, including for summer practice.

"It's tough for a football coach to be able to monitor all 150 kids," said Knudson.

Paid coaches in Hillsborough and Polk counties have CPR and AED certifications. But Knudson insists that's not enough.

"It's that immediate medical attention that needs to happen when you have an emergency situation," he said.

A spokesperson for Polk County Public Schools gave us this statement:

Polk County Public Schools is in the process of purchasing cold water immersion tubs (ice baths) that will be required for all outdoor high school athletics beginning this coming school year. The tubs will be available so that student-athletes can be immediately treated for heat-related illnesses before they are transported to a medical facility for additional examination or treatment.

Hezekiah's cause of death has not yet been determined. We also reached out to Hillsborough County Schools about the petition but they said they can't comment due to an active internal review.

Those interested in learning more about the petitions calling for full-time athletic trainers at every public school can click here for Hillsborough County and click here for Polk County.