Drake Geiger, a 16-year-old football player from Omaha South High School, collapsed during practice this week and died in the hospital. Doctors say that he passed away from heatstroke after the temperature index in Nebraska reached nearly 106 degrees.
His family is now mourning the loss of a boy who had his whole life ahead of him. He is survived by his parents and four sisters.
The tragic incident happened last Tuesday at around 4 p.m. Geiger, who played offensive and defensive tackle for his school’s football team, became ill within the first ten minutes of practice and collapsed on the field. It was his first practice of the season because his doctor had forgotten to sign the physical evaluation form that allowed him to play.
He was rushed to the Nebraska Medical Center where doctors tried to regulate his body temperature, but they had no luck. During those ten minutes of practice, Drake Geiger’s body had reached a dangerous 122 degrees. The hospital team worked on him for three hours.
“The doctor came and said, ‘It is not looking good, he is extremely overheated,’” said Sam Hoffman, the boy’s father. “His organs were working so hard to cool down.”
On Tuesday afternoon, The National Weather Service had issued a heat advisory warning for the area of Nebraska. The Nebraska School Activities Association recommends modifying practice for temperatures above 90 degrees. When it reaches between 105 and 124 degrees like it was last Tuesday, the Association recommends that practice is modified, players only wear T-shirts and shorts, and take water and rest breaks every 15 minutes. On the day that Drake Geiger collapsed, the team was wearing no shoulder pads and had just come back from a water break.
The Association says that while they recommend these steps to be taken, everyone reacts differently to extreme heat. According to the Associated Press, Geiger’s death is the fourth time this month that a high school football player has died during practice.
Hoffman says that his son was a healthy boy. At 6 foot 3 and 389 pounds, Geiger had no problem dealing with the heat on his family’s recent trip to Las Vegas and California. His family doesn’t understand why their son had to be taken from them so soon.
All Geiger wanted to do was play football. His family said he was excited to be on the team and he didn’t care if he had to sit on the sidelines all season, he loved the comradery of the team.
“He always brought laughter to the room, always smiling, well-liked. I mean, a lovable kiddo,” Brittany Hoffman, Geiger’s sister said. “Going to be missed a lot.” The family was always excited to be around Geiger and said that he could light up any room he was in.
The Omaha South High School released a statement following the passing of Drake Geiger. “We have been in contact with Drake’s family and conveyed our heartfelt sympathy and support. Many in our community will be affected by this news. South High is a tight-knit community, and we are here for one another,” wrote Principal Jodi Pesek.
The school is currently conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Drake Geiger’s death. School counselors are being offered to any student who needs them.
His father says that he has gotten a lot of support from his family and the school football team. “We’re all sticking together, talking and supporting each other, talking about the memories that we got. Last night the hardest part was being alone and seeing his room. That just hurt a lot,” said Hoffman.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral expenses. The page has already gained over $18,000 in donations.