Coroner: Several factors contributed to River Bluff football player’s death

Published: Sep. 6, 2016 at 9:53 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2016 at 2:10 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Nearly one month after the death of River Bluff sophomore defensive lineman Lewis Simpkins, the Lexington County Coroner has released the cause of his death.

According to Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher, the autopsy, which was initially inconclusive, shows more than one factor that caused Simpkins' death.

Fisher said Simpkins died as a result of complications from an irregular heartbeat secondary to a pre-existing heart condition. The autopsy also showed Simpkins' heart was abnormally large and the walls of his heart's main pumping chamber displayed signs of severe thickening.

Fisher said those factors along with external environmental conditions such as the day's heat and humidity during football practice likely contributed to his death.

"Most students get a routine physical before the season starts," Fisher said. "That exam isn't always done by a doctor. And it usually doesn't include a test called an electrocardiogram.  An ECG can uncover signs of dangerous and irregular heart rhythms but doesn't catch every damaged heart.  Also, it sometimes flags a heart as defective when it is perfectly healthy but slightly enlarged due to rigorous training so some doctors may be against including ECG's in sports physicals.  A healthy heart that is misidentified as damaged may encourage kids to give up sports they love."

The autopsy showed no signs of dehydration or any absolute signs of heat stroke.


Simpkins was laid to rest on August 15.

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