TAMPA, Fla. — The family of Hezekiah Walters is demanding the Hillsborough County School District make changes in the aftermath of his untimely death. The incoming freshman died in June after football conditioning drills at Middleton High School.
The Yerrid Law Firm is representing the family. On Wednesday, attorney Steve Yerrid said his firm is not planning on filing a lawsuit unless the district does not make changes to protect student-athletes.
"It's never a good situation when anything has to be done. We need to be proactive as opposed to reactionary. We need to take efforts to stop these horrible events and tragedies before they occur,” Yerrid said.
Yerrid said the family wants to see an athletic trainer in all schools, they also want all coaches and staff to follow the appropriate protocols for student-athletes and the staff that's supposed to be in place during conditioning needs to be there.
A letter from the Yerrid Law Firm to the district mentions wrongful death claims and negligent football conditioning exercises. It also states Walter's father told coaching staff that he “had never participated in rigorous physical training and would need appropriate instruction, supervision and guidance while being gradually conditioned into team activities that only very experienced and prepared athletes are acclimated to endure.”
Related: Hillsborough superintendent says protocols weren't followed before incoming freshman's death
Eakins said on Monday that the assistant principal and coach have both been demoted and are no longer at Middleton. He said leaders at that school did not follow proper protocol when it came to uploading paperwork for student-athletes.
"We found in our investigation, incomplete record-keeping for Hezekiah's student-athlete clearance forms by an administrator and a coach,” said Eakins. "We found incomplete paperwork of other student-athletes at the same school. That is unacceptable."
Yerrid said it is likely the school district will pay a settlement to the Walters family.
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