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‘They wanted us to know he was dying’ Bowie HS football player overheats, rushed to ER after game

AUSTIN (KXAN)—A senior football player at Bowie High School almost died from a heat stroke after the first game of the season, his mom told KXAN.

On Wednesday, things were somewhat back to normal for Justice Trumpler and his family, just days after he was rushed the the Emergency Room.

“He started to say his head felt like it was going to explode,” Jennifer Norman-Wolfe, Trumpler’s mother said.

Trumpler is a senior left-center lineman on the Bulldogs’s football team.

On a 104-degree day— the game went into overtime. Justice wasn’t playing his best, and Norman-Wolfe said their family noticed.

“A couple times he tried to stay on his feet so that he could stay in the game and just couldn’t and fell over,” Norman-Wolfe said.

At home after the game, he got worse. After a CT-scan, Justice’s mom said doctors told her he had a heat stroke, which caused brain swelling.

“Seeing his face just looking blankly at me, like he’s never seen me before was heartbreaking,” she said. “They asked him if he had any siblings and he said I don’t know. He has five siblings.”

Trumpler said he noticed the heat was affecting him during the game.

“I started vomiting like pretty much right after halftime, like the first or second drive went in,” Trumpler said. “It was mid play.”

Trumpler’s mother said no one from the family realized how serious his condition was until he got progressively worse.

“Doctors wanted to us to know that he was dying,” Norman-Wolfe said.

What are the heat safety policies in Texas

The Korey Stinger Institute does have sports safety heat polices for Texas. However, most are related to sports practices.

“There’s not a clear cut-off temperature that we can say yes or no, it’s okay to play,” Dr. Lisa Doggett, a family physician in Austin said. “It really depends on a lot of different conditions…Coaches and trainers need to work closely with physicians to figure out what makes sense for their athletes and make sure that they’re safe.”

According to Austin ISD’s temperatures guidelines, staff must:

  • Reduce the intensity and duration of strenuous physical activity initially and gradually increase to accomplish acclimatization.
  • Fully hydrate students prior to strenuous physical activity.
  • Provide cool water and schedule frequent rest periods.
  • Plan strenuous outdoor activities for early morning.
  • Be aware of chronic health issues and medications of students so that heightened surveillance of students with special needs occurs.
  • Students with certain conditions are at a greater risk of heat stress. Included (but not limited to): cystic fibrosis, asthma, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, obesity, diabetes, chronic heart failure, caloric malnutrition, anorexia nervosa, sweating insufficiency syndrome.
  • Check to see if a student’s medication has specific precautions regarding heat, sunlight, etc.
  • Use a “buddy system” where students are educated regarding symptoms and monitor each other.
  • Implement extra precautions when practicing on concrete or asphalt.
  • Reduce the intensity of activities lasting 30 minutes or more whenever relative humidity and air
  • Temperature result in a heat index at or higher than 90 degrees.

Norman-Wolfe still wishes more would be done.

“There are numerous protocols in place and they weren’t good enough,” she said. “The experts need to weigh in…these are passionate kids, and they want to give it everything they’ve got. As adults we need to be the ones to say this is not safe.”

KXAN reached out to AISD to ask if it plans to make changes, and did not hear back on Wednesday. We will update this article once a response is received.

Norman-Wolfe said her son’s coach has been supportive throughout his recovery process, and believes he’s taking athletes’ safety seriously.

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