Tragedy struck a school in Apopka, Fla., on Tuesday when Wekiva High School freshman football player Olivier Louis collapsed on the field just before the start of a practice and later died at a nearby hospital. He was 15 years old.
According to OrlandoSentinel.com, Louis was stretching before the start of after-school practice around 4 p.m. when he collapsed after suffering from "medical difficulties." Louis was the youngest of seven children, and his family expressed utter shock at the teenager's death.
"I don't know how that makes sense," Michael Louis, Olivier Louis' 18-year-old brother, told OrlandoSentinel.com.
"It's a tragedy, and one that I'm sure will touch a lot of people in the community," Apopka Mayor John Land told the Sentinel. "It really hits home."
According to OrlandoSentinel.com, witnesses to Louis' collapse were being interviewed by deputies, and homicide detectives were beginning a full death investigation.
Those investigators and doctors have yet to determine whether heat played a role in Louis' death. Temperatures in Orlando and Daytona Beach reached the upper 80s Tuesday afternoon, though other individual factors could have also contributed to putting Louis at risk of heat-related injury.
Heat-related illness has been a problem in Central Florida this year, with six Apopka High players hospitalized after practicing in mid-90s heat last month. Still, the temperature during those incidents were nearly a full 10 degrees higher than those Louis and his teammates faced Tuesday, and Louis collapsed before the team's workout had even started, as opposed to the Apopka players, who collapsed in the middle of intense football conditioning drills.
"At all times, there's water there," Kathy Marsh, a spokeswoman with Orange County Public Schools, told CFNews13.com. "We also have [portable defibrilatiors] present when we're having any sort of practice or anything like that. We always make sure we talk to students about being hydrated. At this time, I haven't been given any information about whether what happened with this young man had anything to do with heat."
While it won't be known whether heat actually played a factor in Louis' death until after the player's autopsy is completed Thursday, other commenters on both CFNews13.com and OrlandoSentinel.com complained that no football practices should be expected when the Florida heat reaches the upper-80s and 90s. One OrlandoSentinel.com reader named "bouledoux" was particularly vocal in his disapproval with hot weather practices, going so far as to advocate a November-May Florida season for high school football, when temperatures would be safer.
"All joking aside, people, it is just too damned hot to expect kids to be out in full football uniform running wind sprints in the sun. Football season starts too darned early. November 1 would be a good time to form a team and you have till May 1 with decent temperatures to expect ANYONE to be out playing ball in."
Photo taken from Facebook.