Football Death Leads to Reckless Homicide Charges: Kentucky Embarks on Unprecedented Case

Amanda Sherman, Staff Writer

I.  Background

On August 20, 2008, in Louisville, Kentucky, the Pleasure Ridge Park High School (PRPHS) football team was practicing in 94 degree heat.1 What was reportedly a grueling practice (with one parent describing the coach’s style as “training young teenagers for the Navy SEALS team”),2 ended tragically when fifteen year-old Max Gilpin collapsed after completing a series of wind sprints.3 Three days later, Gilpin died due to complications from heat stroke.4

When events as unfortunate as this occur, it is a normal response to look for someone or something to blame, and certainly, to seek justice.  In the past, situations similar to Max’s have resulted in the deceased’s family bringing a civil suit, as was the case after Minnesota Viking’s offensive tackle Korey Stringer died of heatstroke in 2001.5 Gilpin’s case is unique, however, because although Max’s parents have filed a civil suit for negligence and reckless disregard against the PRPHS coaching staff, criminal charges have also developed.  The Commonwealth is bringing criminal charges against head coach, David Stinson.6 On January 22, a grand jury indicted Stinson on a charge of reckless homicide in connection with Max’s death.7

The decision to bring criminal charges against Stinson is drawing a lot of attention and raising many questions.  Why was David Stinson the only coach charged criminally?  Where were the other parents who were watching the practice?  Why were no other players as seriously affected by the heat that day?  Time (and perhaps a jury) will help answer some of these questions, however others may remain unanswered even after a verdict is delivered.  Continue reading “Football Death Leads to Reckless Homicide Charges: Kentucky Embarks on Unprecedented Case”