A Staten Island teenager died after collapsing during varsity football practice Monday morning, officials say.
Miles Kirkland, a 16-year-old junior at Curtis High School, collapsed during practice and was pronounced dead at Richmond University Medical Center, the FDNY said.
Teammate Marcus Haskell said Kirkland was going for water and “he just collapsed.”
Amad Anderson, another teammate, said, “We don’t know what happened but he just fell. I think he was overheated, probably.”
The medical examiner’s office will determine how he died.
In a statement, schools chancellor Carmen Farina said, “I am deeply saddened to learn of this tragic loss and my heart goes out to the family. We will be supporting the school community as we investigate the matter.”
Curtis Athletic Director Eric Ritzer told the Staten Island Advance, “As you can imagine it was a very emotional scene. Most of the team, if not all of the team, was there. All of us are trying to fathom what just happened.”
Kirkland, who was 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 295 pounds, played as an offensive and defensive lineman, according to a scouting report for the upcoming season obtained by the newspaper.
“He really loved the game,” said Haskell.
Kirkland’s mother was “taking it very, very hard,” according to the boy’s grandmother Florence McNatt. “She has not stopped crying.”
The Public School Athletic League requires all exercise to stop if the temperature reaches 85 degrees and the humidity reaches 80 percent, according to the Advance. It was about 78 degrees with 75 percent humidity at about 10 a.m. on Staten Island, the paper reported.
In 2012, Staten Island teen Nicholas Dellaventura died after a voluntary football practice at his school St. Joseph-by-the-Sea.
Anderson said players at Curtis High School get plenty of breaks and water.
“We always have the hose running. Since there were past incidents with football players, we get a lot of water breaks now,” he said.
Grief counselors were on hand at the school Tuesday, which officially opens for the new academic year on Thursday. Classmates and friends set up a memorial with candles for Kirland.
“I’ve been crying all day, ever since I found out,” said senior Shanice Sky.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the coach told the team to play in Kirkland’s honor.
“He said this season’s gotta be for Miles, and we gotta work hard now,” said Anderson. “He’s watching above us and we gotta go to work.”