Football Player Collapses in the Heat; Coaches Charged

(NECN: Brian Burnell, Conn.) - Police in Connecticut have charged two assistant high school football coaches in connection with a player overcome by the heat during a workout. It happened in Middletown.

Middletown Police reported the player collapsed while running springs in 90+ degrees at about 7:30 Tuesday night. They have charged the coaches running that workout with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

The athletic director says the incident has been blown out of proportion, but there is a lesson to be learned.

It happened about 7:30 Tuesday evening at Middletown, Connecticut High School. A dozen football players had finished their lifting inside the air-conditioned weight room. They moved outside to run sprints.

Michael Pitruzzello, Middletown HS AD: "Six, 30-yard sprints. In between each sprint is a 4-minute recovery."

Athletic Director Mike Pitruzzello says the police report on this is inaccurate. It said the sprints were done uphill, that no water was provided to the players and that the player in question collapsed. That's why charged were filed. Pitruzzello says each player had his own water bottle with him and the sprints were on flat ground near the the football field. The player who had issues felt nauseous and light headed and told coaches Chris Ellis and Josh Hamilton he needed to sit down.

Michael Pitruzzello, Middletown HS AD: "So he sat. He did not collapse. He sat. And when he sat he said, 'I feel like I have to throw up again.' They said, 'Go ahead and throw up.' So he did throw up and they checked him again, 'how do you feel, and he said, 'I still feel queasy.' "

An ironic note to this story. The high school here is an emergency cooling center for the people in town.

That turned out to be a good thing because a nurse stationed at the cooling center examined the player outside and brought him inside. It was her decision to call an ambulance and get him to the emergency room as a precaution. He spent an hour and a half there getting hydrated.

Michael Pitruzzello, Middletown HS AD: "The family happens to be personal friends of mine on top of it. I talked to the mom this morning and he's doing fine."

Pitruzzello says he is going over the incident with his coaches to see if there is something more they should or could have done. He is also looking at creating guidelines for hot days and outdoor practices. Not a bad idea according to Dr. Kenneth Robinson of Hartford Hospital.

Dr. Kenneth Robinson, Assoc. Chief of Emergency Medicine: "If you look at heat index its generally considered a heat index between 80 and 90 you should exercise carefully and 91 to 104 you should use extreme caution."

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