Ky. football coach acquitted in player's death
After more than two weeks of testimony, a Louisville jury needed to deliberate just 90 minutes before acquitting former high school football coach David Jason Stinson on all charges in the heat-related death of one of his players following a grueling practice in August 2008.
Stinson was charged with reckless homicide and wanton endangerment, in the death of Max Gilpin, a 15-year-old, 6-foot-2, 220-pound offensive lineman, who collapsed during a practice. Gilpin died three days later of septic shock, multiple organ failure and complications from heat stroke. Prosecutors said Stinson ran a brutal practice and withheld water from his players, as they ran on a day when the heat index reached 94 degrees. Stinson could have faced up to 10 years in prison.
This case was particularly intriguing because of the precedent that a conviction could have set – that perhaps coaches might fear ordering players to complete tough drills or demand players undergo more extensive physical examinations to determine any pre-existing conditions that might lead to a catastrophic injury.
Despite the verdict, it would appear the attention this case produced might give coaches some pause. Never before had a coach been charged in the death of a player who was simply running the same drills as his teammates. Now that it has happened, coaches know that, at least, they could face charges in the event of a catastrophe on the field.
Gilpin’s parents have filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Stinson and five other coaches, claiming negligence in their tending to their son. That case is set to go to trial in February.
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