Irvine football player dies

Times Staff Writer

A 16-year-old football player died early Friday after collapsing during practice at Arnold O. Beckman High School in Irvine, police said.

Kenny Wilson, a junior lineman, fell ill at practice and lost consciousness during a team workout shortly before 11 a.m., Irvine Lt. Henry Boggs said.

Coaches and the team’s trainer gave first aid before paramedics arrived, but as Wilson was being rushed to Western Medical Center, Santa Ana, he suffered cardiac arrest and was declared dead at the hospital, Boggs said.


The boy’s mother, who was at the practice, accompanied her son to the hospital.

The tragedy occurred on the first day of conditioning for the varsity football team, said Mark Eliot, a Tustin Unified School District spokesman. School starts Sept. 5.

The death devastated Wilson’s teammates, leaving coaches, trainers and school staff emotional, Eliot said. Four grief counselors were provided by the district to talk with players needing counseling, he said.

The football drills consisted mostly of running, sit-ups and other exercises. No pads were worn, and water was available. Practice began about 8:30 a.m. and was winding down when the youth collapsed, officials said.

Wilson was described by a former teammate as large but agile and in extremely good shape. The 6-foot-1 athlete weighed about 250 pounds and, in addition to playing offensive lineman, competed in varsity wrestling, said Kyle Boudreau, 16.

Boudreau said he went to the school with his parents and spoke to team members after hearing of Wilson’s death.

“He was just doing some kind of exercise and he just collapsed,” Boudreau said, as tears welled in his eyes. “He was the happiest person you’ll ever meet.”

Police have no information regarding the circumstances surrounding Wilson’s death and said they didn’t know whether it was heat-related or a result of a preexisting condition.

Players are required to have physicals and be cleared by a doctor before trying out for the team.

“The parents and kids are really upset,” Eliot said. “It’s really a sad event, and our hearts go out to the family and friends.”

Coach Brian Mustain canceled today’s practice, saying that coaches would meet over the weekend to determine how to proceed.