Kent State football player likely died of hyperthermia

KENT, Ohio-- A football player at Kent State University likely died of hyperthermia, the Portage County Coroner's Office said on Thursday.

Tyler Heintz, an incoming freshman, was taken to a hospital following football conditioning drills at Dix Stadium Tuesday morning, the university said in a statement.

Portage County Coroner Dr. Dean DePerro said the autopsy indicates hyperthermia is the preliminary reason he died. The coroner's office is awaiting further test results to determine if there were other contributing factors. At this time, it does not appear to be cardiac related.

High temperatures and humidity combined with physical activity can cause problems with the body's metabolism, resulting in hyperthermia. DePerro said when people stop sweating, it becomes very dangerous, very quickly.

Heintz was a 2017 graduate of Kenton High School in Hardin County, Ohio. His high school football coach described him as a great person and hard-working athlete. The offensive lineman was planning to study marketing and entrepreneurship at Kent State.

The coroner called this a tragedy for this family and the university community. Kent State is constantly reviewing its safety policies to make sure these types of incidents do not happen, as it did following the death of another football player, DePerro said.

Kent State center Jason Bitsko was found unresponsive on Aug. 20, 2014 in his off-campus apartment after not showing up to practice. The cause of death for the 21-year-old was an enlarged heart.

For more information about hyperthermia from the National Institutes of Health, click here.

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