North Carolina teen dies unexpectedly at football workout

- The unexpected death of a 14-year-old student on Monday has left a North Carolina community in mourning.

Karson Cross a vibrant, smart, athletic student planned to start high school in the fall, but a summer football practice on Monday changed everything.

Cross attended an optional football workout at 5 p.m. on June 13, and about 30 or 40 minutes into the workout he started to get sick. 

"Coaches responded immediately, my understanding is that 911 was called pretty quickly when this occurred. They started managing the situation as best they could until EMS arrived and took over,” said Leigh Hebbard, the director of athletics at Cross’s school.

Cross was transported to a local hospital before he went to UNC Chapel Hill.  Unfortunately he passed away later that day, but it’s still unclear why he got sick in the first place. 

According Hebbard, physicals are required for all the students on the football team, and there is always water available.  Coaches encourage the players to take a water break every 20 to 30 minutes, and heat restrictions are enforced.

"The heat restrictions come in when the temperature and humidity get extremely high. Monday was not a day that... the temperature was somewhere 85, 86 to 87, depending on where you were in Guilford County,” said Hebbard.

Although Cross won’t make it to high school, Principal Patrice Faison says, “Talking to his mom today I felt like I got to know him, and I saw from just looking and trying to get a sense of who he was- he was a great student, an A student, loved football, loved all sports, and very passionate according to mom and dad about what he did, regardless of what it was."

The tragedy of Karson’s unexpected death prompted one anonymous student to start a GoFundMe.com page in honor of the late football player, and Principal Faison said his death is hitting fellow athletes and parents hard.

"I just want parents to know that we love and treat their kids like they're our own. We take summer workouts seriously. We always review our policies and procedures and make sure they are being hindered to,” said Faison. 

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