A 14-year-old football player has died after collapsing at practice.
Lewis Simpkins, 14, was pronounced dead upon arrival Wednesday evening at the Lexington Medical Center Emergency Department, according Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher.
An autopsy was performed Thursday to determine the cause of death, but Fisher said further studies are needed over the next several days. The Lexington County Coroner’s Office is continuing to investigate the case and will release new details as they become available, she said.
According to a Lexington One School District release, Simpkins was assisted by two athletic trainers on site and a River Bluff coach. They began medical treatment, which included CPR and the use of an AED (defibrillator).
River Bluff began practice at 5 p.m. and practiced for two hours and 15 minutes. During practice the players took regular water breaks every 15 to 20 minutes during which the members are required to leave the field and drink water. There are water hoses available at all times, as well as coolers and water, according to the district.
Simpkins, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive tackle, played for River Bluff’s B team and junior varsity last season. Messages of condolences from Midlands high schools and across the state flooded social media.
“It was a joy to coach Lewis. Such a bright, talented young man. We’ll all miss his smile. But I don’t believe his spirit is gone,” Westwood defensive coordinator and former River Bluff assistant James Reynolds posted on Twitter.
River Bluff staff and counselors were available Thursday in the school’s cafe beginning at 3 p.m. for any students who were interested.
School officials did not let reporters on campus Thursday.
The school canceled all athletic events for Thursday. The River Bluff football team players, coaches and training staff met together privately. The Gators won’t play in Friday’s Lexington County Sportsarama. River Bluff was scheduled to play Mid-Carolina in the event at White Knoll High School.
Bertha R. Massie