LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Kentucky high school football coach charged in the death of a player who collapsed at practice says he is heartbroken and that part of his life has been taken away.
"The one thing people can't forget in this whole situation is that I lost one of my boys that day. A boy that I loved and a boy that I cared for and a boy that meant the world to me," coach David Jason Stinson told dozens of supporters at his home Saturday night. "That's the thing that people forget and don't ever forget that. That's a burden I will carry with me for the rest of my life."
It was his first public remarks since he was charged with reckless homicide Thursday in the death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin, a sophomore offensive lineman who died three days after collapsing during a sweltering practice in Aug. 20.
Heat exposure deaths have occurred occasionally in all levels of football and the cases have led to numerous lawsuits. However, it appears a coach has never been criminally charged in the deaths.
Stinson's attorney has said the coach is innocent. But Stinson, who spent his first three years at Pleasure Ridge Park as an assistant before taking over last season, wasn't talking about the charge Saturday.
"Part of my life's been taken away," he said. "I no longer teach. I no longer coach."
A school spokeswoman said he has been reassigned pending the outcome of the case. Stinson is expected to be arraigned Monday.
Some of Stinson's supporters held up signs. Others left notes. Some shared prayers and memories of the coach.
Many of them were students, and they clapped and cheered "we want Stinson," urging the coach to come outside of his home and address them.
"Every morning he would come in, he just had this glow about him," Ariel Whitaker, who had Stinson for two Web design classes, told The Courier-Journal of Louisville. "He could make anyone smile."