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Tampa family pushes for protocol changes after son's death during football conditioning

Family attorney prefers changes over lawsuit
Posted at 6:15 AM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 06:15:59-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa family is pushing for changes after their son died during high school football conditioning.

14-year-old Hezekiah Walters collapsed last month during conditioning drills for the football team at Middleton High School.

The Walters' family attorneys said filing a lawsuit against the Hillsborough County School District is their last resort, but not off the table.

“They want change and they want it now,” Steve Yerrid said at a press conference on Wednesday.


Phyllis and Feliz Walters declined to speak on the advice of attorneys Yerrid and David Dickey, but their lawyers said his dad took the extra time and care to set his son up for success.

“He made sure he went out that first day, met the coach who he would be entrusting his son to, spoke with him about it and said, 'he needs some encouragement, some teaching and some work,'" Dickey said.

The incoming freshman collapsed and died in between wind sprints, weight lifting and water breaks.

“With high intensity exercises the body cannot dissipate the heat but you gotta get trained up for it and train your body to it. Mr. Walters knew that. He spoke with them,” Dickey said.

Now the family is pushing for three protocol changes:

  • Full-time athletic trainers at all practices and summer conditioning
  • Protocols for how those trainers work with student athletes
  • Trainers need to be present without fail

“We intend to work with the school board until we have a satisfactory situation," Yerrid said.

Yerrid went on to say the family could be compensated with as much as $1 million for their son's death if fault was proven.