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Student athlete's death puts Hillsborough Co. school athletic activities on hold

Hezekiah Walters, 14, was practicing at Middleton High School when he collapsed, according to Tampa police.

TAMPA, Fla. — After a 14-year-old student athlete collapsed and died during conditioning drills, the Hillsborough County School District asked all schools to stop all athletic activities Wednesday.

Hezekiah Walters, 14, was practicing at Middleton High School on Tuesday when he collapsed, according to Tampa police.

A Tampa Fire Rescue crew rushed Walters to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Previous: Teen dies after collapsing during conditioning drills on Tampa football field

Hillsborough County Public Schools officials said they stopped all athletic activities and conditioning out of an abundance of caution.

School officials said the athletic activities would be stopped until schools:

1) Direct every coach to review all safety procedures pertaining to athletic activities.

2) Complete a review by school staff members of student records to ensure every student taking part in any athletic activity is cleared to participate.

School officials said these were already the school district’s procedures, but they were bringing them back to the forefront.

Walters’ cause of death is still under investigation. It's unclear whether his death is heat-related, but what happened to Walters sounds eerily similar to a mother in Fort Myers.

Laurie Giordano's son, Zach Martin, collapsed at a summer workout in 2017 and died later at the hospital. She was at the school waiting to pick him up.

"I honestly didn't know what was happening at that moment, but I knew it was bad and I knew he was very close to dying," she said.

Since that day, Giordano's been fighting for changes to make high school athletics safer. She helped introduce a video on heat-related injuries that all high school athletes are required to watch, per Florida High School Athletic Association rules.

The FHSAA, which oversees high school athletics, said it does not regulate athletic activities that take place over the summer.

"The FHSAA is deeply saddened to hear about the loss of incoming Middleton High School freshman Hezekiah Walters," the organization said in a statement. "We are currently working with local authorities to gather more information regarding this incident. Until more facts are known, we will not comment any further."

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