Autopsy: Football player died from heart problem, not heat

MACON, Ga. (AP) — An autopsy finds that a 15-year-old high school football player who died in July after collapsing at practice in Georgia was the victim of an “abnormal heart rhythm” and not heat-related illness.

Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones tell The Telegraph of Macon that the autopsy by a Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner found Joshua Ivory Jr. died July 26 of cardiac dysrhythmia, which triggered “sudden cardiac arrest.”

Jones said Ivory suffered from an “abnormal heart rhythm that sent him into cardiac arrest.”

The 15-year-old collapsed on the first day of fall football practice at Macon’s Southwest High School. Coaches called an ambulance after recognizing that Ivory was in distress, said Bibb County Athletic Director Barney Hester. Ivory died in a hospital emergency room.

Georgia rules call for a five-day period for players to get used to heat and physical exertion while practicing in shorts and helmets. Bibb County Superintendent Curtis Jones said the school took extra precautions beyond those required. The district reviewed its rules after Ivory’s death. Macon reached a high of 97 degrees (36 degrees Celsius) before the practice started.

Southwest High head coach Joe Dupree was placed on administrative leave in August while school officials investigated, but was reinstated less than a week later.

“It’s good to get the results back, but this is still a sad day because a family has lost a loved one,” Jones said. “Our thoughts continue to be with the family of Joshua Ivory.”

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