Bob Satterfield, a member of the Notre Dame national championship football team who collapsed and died suddenly at a nightclub in January, was a victim of a congenital heart defect, a medical examiner announced Friday.
Satterfield, 22, a former Notre Dame High School standout from Encino, “died as a result of subtle congenital heart defects which were previously unknown and resulted in cardiac arrest followed by seizure activity,” said a report from Dr. Fred M. Busse, the medical examiner of Berrien County, Mich.
The heart defect amounted to an “abnormality in the system which regulates the heartbeat,” Busse said, quoting the opinion of Dr. S. Bharati, director of the Congenital Heart and Conduction System Center in Chicago.
Satterfield died on the morning of Jan. 19 after he collapsed at a nightclub in Niles, Mich., a few miles north of South Bend. He had traveled with his teammates to Washington for a White House ceremony commemorating the team’s national championship, and they had returned to South Bend the previous evening.
Satterfield, an offensive and defensive back, went to the nightclub with two teammates, tailback Mark Green and defensive end Darrell Gordon. He danced several times and sat down to talk. Upon leaving, he stood up, suddenly put his arm out and collapsed, first to the table and then to the floor, and went into a seizure, Busse said.
Life-support measures were not started for at least six minutes after emergency assistance was summoned, and two neuropathologists who also examined autopsy materials believe Satterfield was brain dead by that time, Busse said.
“Mr. Satterfield had been in excellent health,” Busse said. “As a member of the Notre Dame football team, he was required to maintain a high level of physical condition. His medical history did not reveal any obvious cause for his sudden death.”