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MacNut
Jan 26, 2009, 05:13 PM
A Kentucky high school football coach on Monday pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide in the heat-related death of a 15-year-old player who collapsed while running sprints at a sweltering August practice.

David Jason Stinson was released without having to post bond following his arraignment. A grand jury last week indicted Stinson, who was in his first year as head coach, in the death of Pleasure Ridge High School offensive lineman Max Gilpin.

"This is not about football, this is not about coaches," Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney David Stengel said after the hearing. "This is about an adult person who was responsible for the health and welfare of a child."

Gilpin was one of six people to die because of the heat in high school and college athletics in 2008. Stengel said he doesn't know if this is the first case in which a coach has been criminally charged in such a death that happens occasionally in all levels of athletics.

One of Stinson's attorneys, Brian Butler, said the case won't be settled without a trial because his client "is not responsible for this child's death."
"Coach Stinson absolutely believes that he is innocent of these charges. This is a tragedy beyond belief for (Gilpin's) family," Butler said. "His heart goes out to them."

The sophomore died Aug. 23 of complications from heat stroke, three days after collapsing at practice. His family attended the hearing but did not speak to reporters. Jeff Gilpin and Michele Crockett, the player's divorced parents, have jointly filed a lawsuit against the school's coaching staff, accusing them of negligence and "reckless disregard."

Despite the felony charge that carries a maximum of five years in prison, some in the south Louisville community have rallied around the coach.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jxErGcZEn4iTyjZ95atiOZmKg3aAD95V32480

GoCubsGo
Jan 26, 2009, 05:18 PM
Here's the deal, if this goes in favor of the people and not the coach, it will set legal precedent. In some ways this will force schools to increase their protection for students. Well all know that "hell week" is usually in the summer and in the hotter climates there's really no way around it all. However, unless the coach was negligent by way of refusing water then it is hard to say it was his fault. We do not know what the boy ate that day or even the week leading up. Was he healthy? Did he drink lots of fluids that weren't filled with sugar?

The people are looking for someone to blame because it would appear that these types of death among children are on the rise. However, I am not sure the coach is to blame until someone can prove he had something to do with the child dropping.

It is bittersweet really. We want "justice" for the boy, but is justice to be had or should there be tighter restrictions on hours of practice and such?

MacNut
Jan 26, 2009, 05:20 PM
Coaches also have to notice if a player if about to collapse. There are warning signs that a coach should see. These kids are not pro athletes.

petermcphee
Jan 26, 2009, 05:22 PM
Here's the deal, if this goes in favor of the people and not the coach, it will set legal precedent.

Probably this case will be decided on existing negligence principles and will not set precedent (not precedent that can't be distinguished by facts, anyway). Negligence law in a nutshell = a strong gut feeling. :)

r.j.s
Jan 26, 2009, 05:25 PM
Coaches also have to notice if a player if about to collapse. There are warning signs that a coach should see. These kids are not pro athletes.

Some people are good at hiding it up until the point they hit the ground.

I've seen several Soldiers acting fine one minute, then just drop from dehydration the next. If they're trying to hide it, then the coach may not have noticed.

dmr727
Jan 26, 2009, 05:27 PM
I don't know how to feel about this either. I used to run track, and once passed out due to heat. I was fine, but prior to passing out, I didn't seem to get much warning. I thought I was drinking enough water, I was running well, and the next thing I know I couldn't stand. They pumped tons of water into me and I was fine, but it's not like the coaches could have ever known that something was wrong with me until I was already on my back.

Obviously if the signs were there and were ignored by the staff, that's another thing altogether, but sometimes stuff happens, and nobody is really at fault. I wonder what really happened out there...

AmbitiousLemon
Jan 27, 2009, 12:08 AM
Apparently some people are saying that after the kid collapsed the coach refused to give him water. The way it is reported though makes it sound like the reporters are really unsure about the accuracy of these claims.

I find the most shocking thing that a high school has 5 football coaches.

Abstract
Jan 27, 2009, 12:23 AM
Obviously if the signs were there and were ignored by the staff, that's another thing altogether, but sometimes stuff happens, and nobody is really at fault. I wonder what really happened out there...

Sometimes, people forget this and feel that there's definitely someone to blame and point the finger at.

NT1440
Jan 27, 2009, 12:27 AM
Sometimes, people forget this and feel that there's definitely someone to blame and point the finger at.

It helps with the pain, however this could potentially ruin another life here.

I will reserve judgement until i know if he did anything to prevent the kid from being healthy.

pooky
Jan 27, 2009, 11:43 AM
Wasn't there, not passing judgment, but it's possible it was just too hot to safely practice. Keeping hydrated will only take you so far, particularly if it's very hot and humid.

The weather eventually gets to a point where it's so humid that extra hydration does nothing for you, because your sweat doesn't evaporate. Once your sweat stops evaporating, your body loses the ability to dump excess heat generated from the exercise. As your body warms up, it enters a vicious cycle as other systems shut down, further reducing the ability to dissipate heat. Once you are there, water won't help. The only effective thing to do is cool the person down (ice under the armpits works well). Without treatment, you die.

I don't know how bad the weather was in this case, but it could basically go either way. The coach does have a responsibility to oversee the safety of the players. If conditions were so bad that he couldn't reasonably ensure that safety, he should have canceled the practice (or toned down the intensity). He didn't, someone died, so if the facts suggest he should have acted, he should be punished. If the facts show this was a tragic accident, then it is just that.

SteveMobs
Jan 27, 2009, 11:46 AM
Having played a bit of ball, you have to understand that these coaches are hard-asses that often look at their team from a professional stand point, they take it incredibly seriously. They drive their players incredibly hard, "run a mile for this, 50 push ups for that" it just gets stupid after a while. Physical strain is not going to make me remember something. It's as if they have some sort of idea in their head, of how to bring about perfection, c'mon, it's high school football.

That's my take on the matter.

yellow
Jan 27, 2009, 11:48 AM
These kids are not pro athletes.

Even being a pro athlete doesn't save you.. Remember Korey Stringer (http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200108/01_wilcoxenw_stringer/)?

I'm not sure how I feel about this, it's tragic to be sure. But it's Kentucky in the summer. It's ****ing hot no matter how you slice it. If they do indeed have 5 coaches, they should have enough money to create some sort of indoor practice facility.

Geniusdog254
Jan 29, 2009, 06:28 PM
While I feel for the kid and his family incredibly I am on the coaches side. I am in 9th grade and I play JV basketball. Our gym was built in the 1940's and has no AC and we have to run at practice for conditioning. When we start in late October it is still hot, we get 2 water breaks during practice which is 2 hours long. Sometimes we throw up, sometimes we feel like we are gunna collapse, no one has yet, and if coach thinks we will then he MAKES us stop. No one wants to be the one who stops so even if we are exhausted or hurt we hide it and keep going, just to not quit. I'm guessing this kid was the same, I mean I have seen kids roll their ankle and finish practice and not be able to tell but as soon as practice is over and we're leaving they can hardly walk. I'm guilty of this myself, I dove for a ball and there was a dog pile and they landed on me and I hit my head into the wall and hurt my neck, it bothered me for a good 3 weeks but you bet your ass I didn't tell coach about it. My point is that from someone in a similar situations perspective, I don't think it is possible for it to be the coaches fault unless he refused to let the kid stop or refused him water.

Geniusdog out.

iJohnHenry
Jan 29, 2009, 07:12 PM
Sometimes, people forget this and feel that there's definitely someone to blame and point the finger at.

Sometimes a duck is a duck.

Coaches must be aware of the potential of the "thin skull syndrome". Even the parents might not be aware of the frailties of their own children.

What did the coach prove by this action??

mkrishnan
Jan 29, 2009, 07:22 PM
Sometimes, people forget this and feel that there's definitely someone to blame and point the finger at.

I think the best thing that can come out of a situation like this is inquiry into the cause of the death and measures that can be taken to prevent a recurrence. Were there a fairly clear protocol that addressed the issue of protecting athletes or minor athletes in particular from heat-related injuries, it would not only give coaches something to which they could march, and parents something against which they could measure schools, but it would also let student athletes know that there is a "right" and a "wrong" approach to the issue, to empower them to refuse to cooperate if asked to violate protocol.

At that level, this kind of situation is a lot like soldiers being ordered to commit atrocities or torture. If there is no clear standard of when an order is unlawful, they are very rarely going to feel comfortable, purely on the basis of moral conviction, to refuse. Nor are they likely to protest on behalf of their comrades when others are ordered illegally. If students know what is an "okay" request out on the field on a hot day, they can look out for each other and demand that their coach follow protocol.

Sun Baked
Jan 29, 2009, 07:26 PM
I find the most shocking thing that a high school has 5 football coaches.

Not really, the high school games are big events for some areas and the school staffing reflects it.

I always thought that the college games were big events and had failed to notice that the high school games are equally as big.

Some are so big they have even done TV specials about the rivalry between the schools, though I think the TV special was between two Lexington christian or catholic schools.

rhett7660
Jan 29, 2009, 07:29 PM
Even being a pro athlete doesn't save you.. Remember Korey Stringer (http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200108/01_wilcoxenw_stringer/)?

I'm not sure how I feel about this, it's tragic to be sure. But it's Kentucky in the summer. It's ****ing hot no matter how you slice it. If they do indeed have 5 coaches, they should have enough money to create some sort of indoor practice facility.


Come on now, just because they have five coaches does not mean each one is paid... I had 7 coaches on my high school football team. And no we didn't have an indoor practice place. Most of the time HS coaches are also teachers, not all the time but most.

I think there is very little info on the aftermath of the boy passing out to really pass judgement on the coach. If it comes to light that he did indeed deprive the boy of water I think he is going to pay for that. But until we know all the facts...

RayStar
Jan 29, 2009, 09:15 PM
The coaches are not medical doctors. However, I believe the signs of exhaustion should be known to them. This is such a sad case. I don't think the coach would have pushed the young man if he thought he was in danger. Making kids tough is part of the game.

ucfgrad93
Jan 29, 2009, 09:33 PM
Its too early to tell if the coach was negligent. It is quite a tragedy.

Abstract
Jan 29, 2009, 09:38 PM
I think the best thing that can come out of a situation like this is inquiry into the cause of the death and measures that can be taken to prevent a recurrence.

I think you're 100% correct, but then again, I think they already know what causes this sort of death (i.e. overheating players, dehydration), and I think coaches already know that they need to take heat into consideration.


Then again, one may argue that if you consider the number of sports played in high schools and universities in the US, and the total number of high schools and universities there are in the US, heat doesn't appear to be as great a problem as the media wants you to believe, or alternatively, most coaches do consider the heat and hydration when asking their players to practice hard. If either, or both points were not true, there would be a lot more than 6 deaths.

Or perhaps players have a range of tolerances for extreme conditions, and a small number of those players are not capable of playing under such conditions. It's not because they're weak, or that they don't work hard. It's just difficult to expect 100% of all students to be able to put up with these conditions.


Saying that, if a player does die while in practice due to overworking a player in extreme heat, I think it should be the coach's fault.

Mousse
Jan 30, 2009, 12:44 PM
I've seen several Soldiers acting fine one minute, then just drop from dehydration the next.

If I recall correctly, there was a WWII quote that goes something like this: "The only time you worry about soldiers are when they stop complaining." That was because of the horrid conditions they had to endure. If they still had the strength to complain, they had to strength to go on.

Anyhow, back on topic. A lot of these athletes develop a mentality of working through the pain. The old school, "Rub some dirt on it" or "Walk it off" he-man, tough guy thinking to earn the respect of fellow players. Until we change our attitudes about athletes being somehow more than human, this kind of tragedy will continue in the future. It's not the coach's fault. It's society's fault.

ejb190
Jan 30, 2009, 01:43 PM
There was an article in my local paper about the heat and football practices. One of the coaches talked about the increase in air conditioning and the decrease in the heat tolerance of the kids. 40 years ago AC in schools was unheard of, let alone in homes. Today it is everywhere.

Coaches should take all reasonable precautions - water on the sidelines, breaks, and proper training of and observation by the coaches - and as long as they were doing that, I side with the coach. But as said before, we don't have all the facts...

Macaddicttt
Jan 30, 2009, 06:13 PM
It helps with the pain...

Usually, it doesn't even do that.

Les Kern
Jan 30, 2009, 09:41 PM
Here's the deal, if this goes in favor of the people and not the coach, it will set legal precedent.

Condolences to the deceased, but I hope it DOES set a precedent. Maybe then we can quit making taxpayers pony up for school sports and have interested parties start their own leagues which THEY can pay for. And while we're at it, eliminate PE altogether. I just love seeing 25 kids on a ball field, one pitching, one batting, and 23 standing around for 45 minutes with their finger up their butts. I don't want my hard-earned tax money picking up THAT smell.

...and as long as they were doing that, I side with the coach. But as said before, we don't have all the facts...

Well, we have one fact: A child is dead. Kind of trumps everything else. Would he be dead today if he wasn't practicing in that heat? It cauld happen I suppose. Let's say the child decided to run a marathon and died. Then it's his fault. But in this case the coach called the practice, so its the coaches fault. How can anyone think the buck stops over there and not HERE?

Malfoy
Jan 30, 2009, 10:00 PM
Well, we have one fact: A child is dead. Kind of trumps everything else. Would he be dead today if he wasn't practicing in that heat? It cauld happen I suppose. Let's say the child decided to run a marathon and died. Then it's his fault. But in this case the coach called the practice, so its the coaches fault. How can anyone think the buck stops over there and not HERE?

Because multiple kids haven't collapsed on this coaches watch or at least it hasn't been reported.

If coach has 23 kids and only 1 collapsed, was this one kid asked to do something the other 22 were not?

Were any of the other 22 kids near collapsing but didn't get to that point because this one collapse first and in turned everyone stopped doing what they were doing?

Like others asked, did this 1 kid show signs that he was about to collapse but was ignored?

If the answer to these 3 questions are no, the coach isn't to blame.

Les Kern
Jan 30, 2009, 10:14 PM
Because multiple kids haven't collapsed on this coaches watch or at least it hasn't been reported.

So one dead student is what we'd consider acceptable?

If coach has 23 kids and only 1 collapsed, was this one kid asked to do something the other 22 were not?

Doesn't matter. By that logic if the coach had asked all 23 to do it and one died he'd be culpable. But if he asked all NOT to do it and the kid did it anyway then the coach is still responsible.

Were any of the other 22 kids near collapsing but didn't get to that point because this one collapse first and in turned everyone stopped doing what they were doing?

Immaterial.

Like others asked, did this 1 kid show signs that he was about to collapse but was ignored?

Immaterial.

One of the coaches talked about the increase in air conditioning and the decrease in the heat tolerance of the kids. 40 years ago AC in schools was unheard of, let alone in homes. Today it is everywhere.

Then he's an idiot and should be banned from coaching. Unless of course the human body is able to evolve in 40 years to something they were not in the previous 3 million.

skottichan
Jan 30, 2009, 10:43 PM
I dunno, I'm not keen on the criminal charges against the coach. Yes, the kid was in his care at the times, but we don't know all the variables, what he ate, whether or not he had access to water/sports drinks. I know what it's like, Ohio in late summer's a bitch, and Sister Margaret ran us girls ragged in high school (I was a fencer in a parochial school).

I feel sympathy for the family.

Macaddicttt
Jan 31, 2009, 11:01 AM
Well, we have one fact: A child is dead. Kind of trumps everything else. Would he be dead today if he wasn't practicing in that heat?

That is the worst logic ever. Imagine this coach asked this kid to drive to McDonalds to get him a Big Mac, and the kid gets in an accident along the way, killing the kid. Let's charge the coach for the death, I mean a child is dead and he wouldn't be dead if he hadn't asked him to drive to McDonalds.

Accidents happen. There's no need to blame someone every time something bad happens. You want everyone to live in fear of being charged with crimes just because accidents happen?

mscriv
Feb 2, 2009, 01:10 PM
As a therapist I can tell you that tragedy and loss usually send people into a grieving process that involves several stages. Anger, denial and blame are all a part of this process. The problem is our "sue happy" society today gives people the ability to take action when they are often not thinking clearly because of the grieving process. It's kind of like a wounded animal striking out at everyone, even it's owner. What has happened is horrific, but the family must be supported and proper inquiry must be done to determine all factors involved. To simply blame the head coach seems overboard without knowing all the facts. Why not the coach running the drill where the boy collapsed or the waterboy for not getting water out fast enough? How about the athletic trainer, who is paid to assess and ensure the health and safety of the players? The boy was also in the hospital for several days, let's blame the doctors for not saving him? I'm not trying to be ridiculous, my point is that in tragedies like this there is usually a combination of factors and not one single action or person. Sadly, the quest for justice in an accident is usually an empty quest that is simply trying to make sense of what happened. I hope all involved can find some peace, especially the family and the coaches.

MacNut
Feb 2, 2009, 01:27 PM
The problem I have with that is that the coaches knew it was going to be a hot day. Im sure there were heat warnings. Why were they outside in the first place.