Bailey APAC athlete died of unknown heart condition - - Jackson, MS

Bailey APAC athlete died of unknown heart condition

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Hinds County coroner has released the findings in the investigation into the sudden death of a Bailey APAC Middle School athlete. Coroner Sharon Grisham Stewart said Darius Willington died of natural causes associated with a heart condition.

The 14 year old collapsed and died Monday after school at Bailey Middle School practice.

"No medical condition that we know of," said Darius' father Reginald Willington on Tuesday.

Unfortunately the 42 year old learned about his son's pre-existing condition, an enlarged heart, through an autopsy. He said Darius passed all his previous physicals.

"It still doesn't necessarily indicate a pre-existing condition," said athletic trainer Mike Wilkinson of Mississippi Sports Medicine.

He recommends that parents be aware of family history and make sure children have regular checkups. Wilkinson is also chair of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

He suggests that parents have open communication with coaches and ask about their child's condition after exercising and practice sessions.

"Some of the best things to do that the schools can do is we all have coaches have CPR training since 2007," said Wilkinson. "And also we strongly recommend that they have AED on site or a defibrillator."

Trainers and doctors say exertional sickling, which affects African Americans, people with dark skin and of Mediterranean decent, is a disease that can attribute to sudden death in athletes.

"You don't have to have the disease itself, but if you have the trait, you have a problem with the extertional quick running," added Wilkinson. "It usually happens early in practice. The red blood cells take on a sickle shape and they can't carry the oxygen so it causes an arrhythmia in the heart."

According to experts, head and neck injuries, heat and exertional sickling are the top three causes of sudden deaths among high school athletes.

Willington said a memorial will be held for Darius Thursday at 6 p.m. at Bailey APAC Middle School. Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Stronger Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Beasley Road in Jackson.

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