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Published: Thursday, 1/22/2009

Kentucky high school coach charged in player s death

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOUISVILLE A Kentucky high school football coach was charged Thursday with reckless homicide in the death of a player who collapsed at practice as temperatures soared.

A grand jury indicted David Jason Stinson in the death of Pleasure Ridge Park offensive lineman Max Gilpin, said Jefferson County Commonwealth s Attorney Dave Stengel.

Coach Stinson was directing practice on Aug. 20 when the heat index reached 94 degrees and the 15-year-old sophomore collapsed and had trouble breathing.

The player had a temperature of 107 degrees when he arrived at the hospital, authorities said, and died three days later.

While deaths from heat exposure in athletics happen occasionally, charges are rare.

The reckless homicide charge means grand jurors didn t find that Mr. Stinson s actions were intentional or malicious, Mr. Stengel said, but that a reasonable man should have realized something like this could have occurred.

Mr. Stinson s attorney, Alex Dathorne, told the Associated Press the coach maintains his innocence and looks forward to bringing out the whole story.

We re certainly disappointed in the grand jury s decision to indict, Mr. Dathorne said.

Mr. Stinson, who coached the whole 2008 season, will surrender Monday at his arraignment and likely will remain free pending trial, Mr. Stengel said. He has been reassigned to another position at the school pending the outcome of the case, said Lauren Roberts, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Public Schools.

Attorneys representing young Gilpin s parents, Michele Crockett and Jeff Gilpin, said in a statement saying the school system and high school haven t provided information on the player s death to the family.

But what we have learned about the coaches conduct at the football practice that led to Max s collapse and death is inexcusable, as was the lack of urgency and the delay in seeking medical treatment after Max collapsed and never regained consciousness, the statement from Todd Thompson and Mike Cooper said.

The boy's parents sued Mr. Stinson and five assistant coaches in state court accusing them of negligence and reckless disregard.

The five assistants were not charged in the indictment, and Mr. Stengel said they didn t commit a crime.

Along with the lawsuit and criminal investigation, the school system has been looking into the case, but the results have not been released.

Mr. Stinson asked to testify in front of the grand jurors but they declined to hear him, Mr. Stengel said. The grand jury heard only from a Louisville Metro Police detective.



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