Parents of Mississippi football player who died sue Rankin County School District

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The parents of a Mississippi high school football player have filed a lawsuit against a school district after the teenager died following a collapse during practice in 2022.

Phillip and Ashanta Laster, of Pearl, filed the lawsuit on Jan. 11 in federal court for the Southern District of Mississippi. It names Rankin County School District as the sole defendant.

The Lasters’ 17-year-old son, Phillip “Trey” Laster, died from a cardiac arrhythmia after collapsing during an afternoon football practice at Brandon High School on Aug. 1, 2022.

“No child should ever be in danger of losing their life in pursuit of a passion, especially under the supervision and instruction of adults who should know when to stop pushing these young athletes,” attorney Benjamin Crump said in a news release. “Trey’s tragic death could have been, and should have been, prevented by those in charge, and shows a troubling lack of adherence to guidelines surrounding heat exhaustion prevention.”

Laster’s death occurred during the hottest part of the day. According to the complaint, as soon as he arrived at practice, his coaches immediately ordered him to do wind sprints. While he was running, Laster began exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion that included stumbling and becoming dizzy and nauseous, the complaint says. Ultimately, Laster vomited and then passed out due to the extreme conditions and his coaches’ failure to properly adjust the training to the environment and his high-risk factors, the lawsuit said.

According to the complaint, because it was the first day of practice, the football players had not gone through a two-week acclimatization to the heat. Laster, a 6-foot-1, 328-pound lineman, was at higher risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“On the first day of practice, Trey was required to do wind sprints for a lengthy period of time without any breaks despite Trey’s obvious need for hydration and rest,” the lawsuit contends “RCSD did not modify their practices in light of the conditions and did not suspend all conditioning during this period. Trey should not have been subjected to any conditioning on the first day of practice let alone at a time when the heat index was over 103 … RCSD’s deliberate failures led to Trey’s preventable death.”

When Laster passed out, the school did not have any exertional heat stroke preventive measures on the field, such as ice baths, and did not begin implementing any common prevention procedures. Instead, school district employees placed Laster in the back of a pickup truck, which only increased his body heat, the complaint contends.

According to the complaint, inadequate heat prevention and response led to Laster passing away shortly thereafter.

“Just days before Trey’s death, the Mississippi High School Activities Association and the National Federation of High Schools, of which the Rankin County School District is a member, provided numerous warnings of EHS (exertional heat stroke), identified the risks to lower the chances of EHS, and provided specific instructions on the type of EHS preventive measures that are best to be present at each practice and sporting event,” according to the complaint.

A telephone message left for the school district’s attorney, Fred Harrell, for comment on the lawsuit was not immediately returned.

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BC-MS–Football Player Dies-Lawsuit, 2nd Ld-Writethru

Jan 19, 2024 4:48 PM – 545 words

Eds: CORRECTS: This version corrects the spelling of attorney’s last name in last graf

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