University of Maryland football player died of heat stroke suffered during practice, family says

Doctors say heat stroke can happen to anyone
Posted at 9:29 PM, Jul 16, 2018

A 19-year-old University of Maryland football player died after a practice in May due to heat stroke, the man's family says.

Jordan McNair, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman, collapsed during practice on May 29 and later died at the hospital.

But how does a young, healthy man die from a heat-related illness?

"Young people and athletes can die in these situations it's because you can just say, well, it's really hot out here, I'm just going to push myself. I'm trying to be the best athlete I can be," Dr. Eric Kiechle of Medstar Union Memorial Hospital said.

But doing that can be deadly, like it was for McNair.

"We think heat stroke and heat exhaustion those are things that can kill you, we saw that with Jordan McNair," Dunbar High School JV football coach Ty Johnson said.

Johnson has seen his share of young talent, like McNair. He says his team is vigilant when players are in hot weather.

"The kids' safety is at the forefront of everything that we do. We have an organized 8-week program with heat acclimation just to prepare the bodies for heat," Johnson said.

"Heat can be deadly to anybody. Old, young and there's a whole spectrum of heat-related illnesses ranging from just feeling hot and uncomfortable some people get a heat rash," Kiechle said.

 When athletes exert themselves while exercising in the heat, it can get very serious, very quickly.

"As you get to the more severe end of the spectrum, you have things like heat exhaustion and then finally heat stroke which is the most severe type," Kiechle said.

Without proper hydration and tempering the outside heat with air conditioning, exercise can be deadly.

"Once you develop heat stroke — which means that your body temperature is elevated it's almost as though you have a fever — you have a high body temperature," Kiechle said. "And on top of that, you also have changes in mental status, confusion, you can pass out, you can be very erratic."

Coaches like Johnson are always looking for signs of heat stroke.

"We'll come out here and run sprints, we'll run distance but we always keep an eye on them to make sure they're not being overexerted," Johnson said.

A foundation has been created in memory of McNair.  The Jordan McNair Foundation was established by his parents. It is sponsoring a training facility, a scholarship fund, and heat-related illness education.