Prosecutor: Coach in player death changed practice

By Brett Barrouquere

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A high school football coach behaved recklessly by adding sprints to the end of practice on a blistering hot day, a prosecutor said, explaining for the first time why he was charged with reckless homicide in a player’s death.

Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney David Stengel cited the 50-yard sprints known as “gassers” – as well as Pleasure Ridge Park coach David Jason Stinson’s admonition that the players would run until someone quit – in a routine court document filed late Monday.

“The players claim they ran more gassers that day than any other day of practice,” Stengel wrote in the document, which accompanied about 1,000 pages of statements to police about the 94-degree day that sophomore offensive lineman Max Gilpin died. “Coach Stinson repeatedly denied the players water breaks during gassers.”

Stinson has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide in an unusual case of a coach being charged criminally in the death of a player. Gilpin, 15, died three days after collapsing at the end of an Aug. 20 practice. The causes were listed as septic shock, multiple organ failure and heat stroke.

Stinson’s attorney, Alex Dathorne, said he was still reviewing the documents, but Gilpin had the same four water breaks as the rest of the team during practice.

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A call to Todd Thompson, an attorney for Gilpin’s mother, was not immediately returned. Gilpin’s parents have filed a civil suit accusing Stinson, five assistant coaches and school officials of negligence in Gilpin’s death.

The new court filing included statements Louisville police took from Stinson, 89 football players, nine coaches and 25 other witnesses, including parents at a soccer game on an adjacent field.

Players and coaches described a routine practice for much of the afternoon – watching film, stretching and positional drills.

But players told police that after about two hours on the field, Stinson, a former college offensive lineman, became upset over goofing off and a “lack of hustle.”