After a week without any heat-related prep football deaths nationwide, another teen may have fallen prey to severe heat on Tuesday. This time, the Southern state involved was Arkansas. This despite the fact that health experts continue to say that all football heat-related deaths are preventable, if the right precautionary measures are taken.
According to the Associated Press, Arkansas Democrat Gazette and other sources, a 15-year-old football player for Gurdon (Ark.) High collapsed at an evening practice and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly thereafter. The victim was Montel Williams, a rising sophomore.
Gurdon began practice at 7:15 p.m. to help players try and avoid heat issues that have been prevalent across the South in recent weeks. Gurdon School District Superintendent Allen Blackwell told the Democrat Gazette and AP that the team's practice was less than 90-minutes old when Williams collapsed and was quickly transported to Arkadelphia's Baptist Health Center, in part because the team did not have athletic trainers on-site at the practice.
"He was a strong student, he was a good kid and this will be tough," Blackwell told the Democrat Gazette. "Our community is strong, but anytime something like this happens, it shakes you."
Though heat is expected to be either a dominant or contributing factor, no official cause of death has been announced as of Wednesday morning.
"Obviously he was hot because of practice," Blackwell told the Democrat Gazette. "But we don't know anything official.
"The coaches have gone through all the new trainings and we took every precaution that was possible to avoid these kind of events from happening."
The Gurdon team will not practice on Wednesday in the aftermath of its tragedy, though it will meet to try and talk through players' traumatic feelings about the loss of their friend and teammate. Meanwhile, another American community will have to try and rally support around the friends and relatives of a teen who was taken far too young.
- Arkansas Democrat Gazette