Excessive heat may have caused football player’s death

Tyler Heintz, right, died after a morning workout with the Kent State football team June 13. Heat was likely a factor in the death, according to the Portage County coroner.

Matt Poe

A Kent State football player likely died from “hyperthermia” June 13 after the second day of practice, according to The Record-Courier.

The Portage County Coroner’s office said Tyler Heintz’s official cause of death may take months to determine but preliminary results revealed elevated body temperature.  

Heintz, 19, was an incoming freshman from Kenton, Ohio, and an offensive lineman. 

The Kent Fire Department responded to Dix Stadium Tuesday shortly after 9 a.m. Tyler was reportedly short of breath and in and out of consciousness, according to a 911 call made by Michelle Rura, an assistant athletic trainer.

He was taken to University Hospitals Portage Medical Center and pronounced dead at 11:34 a.m.

Brent Fackler, who served as the Kenton High School football coach for the past three seasons, knew Heintz since he was in seventh grade.

“He was a great kid — one of those kids you loved being around,” Fackler said.

Heintz was a hard worker, tremendous leader and a student athlete who led by example, Fackler said.

“Kent State saw what they liked in him,” he said. “(Heintz) knew it was the right fit.”

The toxicology report came back negative, according to conversations Fackler had with Heintz’s parents, he said. The team, Fackler said, will honor Heintz at some point during the course of its upcoming season.

Heintz received a full scholarship to Kent State and was named to the AP All-Northwest District Second Team in 2016. He planned to study marketing and entrepreneurship at Kent State.

Kent State released the following statement from football coach Paul Haynes regarding Heintz’s death:

“We are deeply saddened by the loss. Tyler was an unselfish young man who exemplifies everything we look for in a Golden Flash. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

KentWired spoke to a group of football players who were present at the practice. They said Tyler was breathing hard, but thought it was normal because everybody was.

The players were then excused from practice by the coaches, they said, but Heintz stayed behind. At the time, the players didn’t know why.

The coaches notified the team of Heintz’s death at a 5:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday.  

“He was supposed to have his first class after practice, but he didn’t even get to go to that,” one player said.

A GoFundMe page supporting the Heintz family “in the wake of their unexpected and tragic loss” asks for those unable to donate to pray for the family.

The official Kent State Athletics Twitter page changed its profile picture to Heintz’s high school and collegiate football jersey in his honor.

Matt Poe is a reporter, contact him at [email protected].