STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – The heat may have contributed to the death of a young man at a Staten Island high school on Monday.
Instead of a day of practice, members of Curtis High School’s football team attended a mandatory meeting.
Many of them are still struggling to come to terms with the death of their teammate, Miles Kirkland, who died right in front of their eyes.
“Most of us couldn’t believe it because he’s such a nice kid. You wouldn’t expect anything to happen to him,” said Marcus Haskell.
A tribute of candles popped up right in front of Bobby Thomson Field House after the 16-year-old collapsed during practice on one of the hottest and most humid days of the year.
Amad Anderson, Kirkland’s friend, says his teammate was slightly late to practice and collapsed after catching up on running drills.
“We had to run up the field 12 times, but Miles only ran up two times,” Anderson said.
After a water break and during individual drills, Kirkland went into cardiac arrest.
Emergency crews performed CPR at the scene before he was rushed to Richmond University Hospital and pronounced dead.
Kirkland’s grandmother says the boy’s mother is inconsolable.
“She has not stopped crying. She has not gotten no sleep all night long and she’s just really trying to deal with this,” said Florence McNatt.
At 6’3″ tall and nearly 300 pounds, teammates said Kirkland was already being scouted by coaches at Division 1 colleges.
Curtis High School plays in the city’s public school athletic league, which requires all physical activity to stop if the temperature reaches 85 degrees and humidity hits 80 percent.
At the time Kirkland collapsed, the temperature was 78 degrees with 75 percent humidity.
Teammates say the coaching staff made a concerted effort the day Kirkland died to help them cope with the heat.
“Since it’s getting hotter and since the past incidents with football players, we get a lot of water breaks now,” said Haskell.