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Hillsborough Schools announce new safety measures after football player’s death

High School Football

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Schools in Hillsborough County are making changes after the death of a 14-year-old student who died during football practice last year.

At a press conference Thursday, the Hillsborough County School Board announced the approval of a $1 million dollar settlement for the family of Hezekiah Walters and announced new safety measures to keep student-athletes safe.

The new training protocols, named the Hezekiah Walters Sports Medicine Educational Plan on Hydration and Heat Illness, will help ensure student-athletes know the dangers of heat-related illnesses. The policy will apply to extracurricular activities such as athletics, band and ROTC. It will also hold staff and administration accountable for following the set guidelines, which include proper hydration, length of practices, and access to cool areas.

Some of the additional safety protocols being implemented include:

  • All football staff will be certified in Heads Up Football training by the 2020-21 school year
  • All high schools have been provided at least one cold immersion tub for heat-related emergencies
  • Our district will continue its commitment to having certified athletic trainers on all high school campuses
  • Required training through the Positive Coaching Alliance to continue instilling positive culture both on and off the field
  • Due to COVID-19, conditioning and practices will be limited to 20 people including coaches, which will allow for enhanced student monitoring

Walters collapsed at Middleton High School last June while running drills in 90-degree weather. After having a seizure, he was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he later died.

An autopsy revealed the 14-year-old died from exertional hyperthermia.

Since his death, two administrators were removed from the school, and the district said it would put an athletic trainer at each school in the county.

They’re expected to announce more safety measures at a 10:30 press conference that will be streamed live on WFLA.com.

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