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Kent State football player dies

Freshman Tyler Heintz unresponsive after workout

By ALLEN MOFF and DIANE SMITH Staff Writers Published: June 14, 2017 4:00 AM
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Tragedy struck the Kent State University football program once again Tuesday morning, when freshman offensive lineman Tyler Heintz of Kenton died following a team workout.

"Today, the Kent State University family mourns the tragic loss of one of our student-athletes," KSU officials said in a statement. "Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with Tyler's family and friends, as well as (head coach Paul) Haynes and the team, our athletics staff and our student-athletes."

Heintz, 19, was transported to University Hospitals Portage Medical Center by the Kent Fire Department, where he was pronounced dead at 11:34 a.m. Tuesday, said Dr. Dean DePerro, Portage County Coroner. Kent Fire Capt. Bill Myers confirmed that firefighters were called to Dix Stadium at 9:18 a.m., and found Heintz unresponsive.

"Tyler Heintz passed away after a Kent State workout today Shocked and bewildered is all we can say. Pray for his family," Kenton Football 2017 tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Brice Fackler, a senior tight end on last year's Flashes squad who is also from Kenton, tweeted: "Thoughts and prayers are with Tyler's family. Such a great guy. He worked so hard to get to where he was at. I can't believe this is real"

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In August of 2014, just 10 days before the scheduled season opener, 21-year-old offensive lineman Jason Bitsko of Huber Heights failed to show up for a scheduled Kent State morning football practice. He was ultimately found dead in the bedroom of his off-campus apartment by a roommate, the victim of an undetected heart ailment.

Heintz was a member of the Golden Flashes' 2017 recruiting class. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound offensive lineman helped Kenton reach the state semifinals twice during his high school career. He planned to study marketing and entrepreneurship in the College of Business Administration, according to the university.

Heintz was on campus along with majority of the team this week taking summer classes and working out. Players typically condition in groups during the summer months while taking classes, with strength coaches and trainers on hand. Coaches are not usually at these workouts, and players do not wear football equipment.

Student-athletes in all Kent State sports who work out in the summer months on campus typically are required to bring paperwork indicating that they've undergone a physical with them when they meet team doctors, who must clear them before they're permitted to work out. Flashes student-athletes were cleared on Sunday to begin workouts on Monday.

Calls to KSU spokesman Eric Mansfield were not immediately returned, and KSU Police directed all questions to Mansfield. Flashes Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen also did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

DePerro said Heintz' body has been transferred to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office, where an autopsy was scheduled to be completed Wednesday. However, he cautioned that the conclusion of the autopsy could take several weeks.

"The post-mortem is just one piece of the puzzle," he said. Investigators are collecting hospital records, gathering reports of any medical history, and interviewing anybody who was with Heintz at the time. "That takes time."

He said Heintz was transported to the hospital at about 9:30 a.m. and doctors apparently worked on him for two hours "without success."

Heintz is the second Kent State student to die in three days. Taylor Pifer, 21, a senior fashion design student, along with her mother, 45-year-old Suzanne Taylor, and sister, 18-year-old Kylie Pifer, were killed Sunday at a home in North Royalton.


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