Father of Football Player Who Died in Heat Says He Didn't Think Practice Was 'Abnormal'

The father of a high school football player who died after practice testified Tuesday in the trial of the boy's coach that he initially didn't see anything wrong with the practice, but changed his mind after hearing from others.

Jeff Gilpin, the 47-year-old father of the 15-year-old who died, testified that the weather was hot during the August 20, 2008, practice and that players were running in full equipment when he arrived around 5:30 p.m.

"I didn't see anything abnormal, except I knew they were running earlier than normal," Gilpin said.

His testimony came on the second day of witnesses in the trial of former Pleasure Ridge Park High School coach David Jason Stinson, who is charged with reckless homicide and wanton endangerment stemming from the death of 15-year-old lineman Max Gilpin.

Stinson has pleaded not guilty in a rare case of a coach being charge with causing a player's death.

Max Gilpin died at a Louisville hospital three days later of heat stroke, sepsis and organ failure. Medical examiners opted not to perform an autopsy.

The teen collapsed at the end of a series of sprints during practice. A temperature reading taken before practice and filed in court showed a temperature of 94, humidity of 26 percent and a heat index of 94 degrees.

Throughout the morning of testimony, Jeff Gilpin told of how he arrived at practice, watched his son collapse and described coaches treating Max Gilpin while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

"He just wasn't responsive," Jeff Gilpin said of his son, whose football helmet sat on the witness stand with him. "I was just kind of confused. I thought he was going to be OK, come out of it."

Defense attorney Brian Butler repeatedly quizzed Jeff Gilpin about differences between his testimony on Tuesday and statements he made to police in the weeks after his son died and answers given in a civil suit against Stinson and other coaches and school officials.

After Jeff Gilpin testified for the first time that Max Gilpin vomited on the field, Butler asked why that wasn't mentioned to police or in the civil suit.

"I don't know if I said that or not," Jeff Gilpin said several times. "I told you I don't remember a lot of the things that I said back in September after my son died."

Jeff Gilpin told jurors he saw at least two players collapse and get treatment and he wasn't sure what was happening when his son fell.

"I just kind of froze," Jeff Gilpin said.

Jeff Gilpin also testified that his son took the drug Adderall, given to people with attention deficit disorder, and had taken the dietary supplement creatine for at least eight months before collapsing.

Side effects for creatine, an over-the-counter supplement, are listed by the National Institute of Health as cramps or muscle breakdown, heat intolerance and electrolyte imbalances. Jeff Gilpin said he believed Max Gilpin had stopped taking the supplement by the time practice started, but he couldn't be certain.

"He didn't take it around me," Jeff Gilpin said.

Jurors last week heard testimony from Gilpin's mother, an athletic trainer and other witnesses.

Prosecutors said Stinson ran a brutal practice the day Gilpin collapsed. Stinson's defense said the practice wasn't unusually hard and said other factors may have played into the teen's collapse.