Hillsborough Schools Orders Halt to Athletic Conditioning Drills After Student Death

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Hezekiah B. Walters, 14, collapsed on the field at Middleton High School on Tuesday after during conditioning drills. (Josh Rojas/Spectrum Bay News 9)
 
Hezekiah B. Walters, 14, collapsed on the field at Middleton High School on Tuesday after during conditioning drills. (Josh Rojas/Spectrum Bay News 9)
 

Hills­borough Schools Orders Halt to Athletic Con­di­tioning Drills After Student Death

By Spectrum News Staff

TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County Public Schools issued a directive Wednesday evening for all schools to temporarily cease conditioning and athletic activities after a 14-year-old collapsed during conditioning drills at Middleton High School and died.

  • Hezekiah B. Walters collapsed at Middleton High School
  • Teen taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he died
  • Medical Examiner will determine cause of death

Hezekiah B. Walters collapsed on a field at Middleton High School at about 4 p.m. Tuesday during summer drills.

Tampa Fire Rescue took the teen to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The teen was an incoming freshman.

So far, the investigation has determined that the football team was about 30 to 40 minutes into conditioning drills, which included weightlifting, wind sprints, and water breaks when the teen collapsed.

Spectrum Bay News 9 Weather experts say the temperature at the time of the drills was 88 degrees, with a heat index of 96.

Authorities haven’t determined if Walters' death is heat related or if he had an underlying medical issue.

"We are devastated by the death of one of our students," read a statement issued by Tanya Arja, a Hillsborough County Public Schools spokeswoman. "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."

Arja claims there's a specific time football practice is allowed to start during the summer but before that time, teams are allowed to do conditioning.

Arja was unable to provide those times.

Later on Wednesday, the district directed each school to cease all conditioning and athletic activities until two requirements were met:

  • Direct every coach to review all safety procedures pertaining to athletic activities
  • Complete a review by school staff members of student records to ensure every student taking part in any athletic activity is cleared to participate

Principals at the schools were directed to confirm with the district once the requirements were met.

The district noted that these requirements are both longstanding procedures, and they were simply bringing them back to the forefront.

The teen’s family has not been able to be reached at this time for a statement.

The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death.

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