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Monday, Sept. 1, 2014: Curtis junior collapses, dies at football practice

   Leading off today: A Staten Island junior died Monday after collapsing at a varsity football practice, The Advance reported.

   Miles Kirkland (editor's note: The New York Daily News identified the youth as Miles Kirkland-Thomas), a third-year varsity player, was pronounced dead upon arrival at Richmond University Medical Center, the paper reported. Athletic Director Eric Ritzer said staff called 911 as soon as Kirkland, 16, collapsed. Firefighters performed CPR for several minutes to try to revive him at Curtis High School, and an ambulance arrived at the scene at about 10:45 a.m.

   A spokeswoman for the city medical examiner's office said an autopsy will likely be conducted Tuesday. City Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg wouldn't comment except to say the death is under investigation.

   Jamar Thomas told the New York Daily News his son was ordered to do wind sprints after showing up late for the team's 9:30 a.m. practice. The player's father said he was told the drill was stopped by coaches after just two sprints, and Kirkland was talking to one of his coaches when he collapsed about 10:30 a.m.

   According to Accuweather, the temperature at 10 a.m. Monday was 78 degrees with 75 percent humidity. PSAL rules require all physical activities to stop if the temperature reaches 85 degrees and the humidity reaches 80 percent. At humidity readings of 50 to 80 percent, the PSAL rules advise "extreme caution must be exercised."

   Kirkland, listed variously as 295 or 321 pounds, was a two-way lineman for Curtis. The paper reported he saw significant playing time as a sophomore last fall and the 6-foot-2 junior was expected to be in the starting lineup Saturday in the season opener vs. Fort Hamilton.

   "Right now (the game's) the furthest thing from our mind," Ritzer told the paper. "The only thing that matters is Miles Kirkland is one of the best kids you'll ever meet."

   There have been a number of deaths at high school practices and contests across the state in recent years.

   Last September, Brocton junior Damon Janes, 16, died three days after collapsing during a Section 6 football game. His death was the sixth ever in Western New York high school football and the first since Mike Dwyer of Olean Archbishop Walsh in 1977.

   Ronan Guyer, a 14-year-old Southold freshman, died in November 2012 five days after being placed in a medically induced coma. While scouting the course to be used the following day at the NYSPHSAA cross country championships at Elma Meadows, Guyer slipped on a muddy area and fell on his chest, triggering cardiac arrest.

   In October 2011, Phoenix varsity football player Ridge Barden died following a head injury suffered in a game. He complained of a severe headache following a play and collapsed while trying to stand up. Autopsy results showed he died of bleeding in the brain, due to blunt force trauma.

   Other recent deaths of football players in New York include:

   In 1983, Yonkers football player Fernando Guedes, 17, died after collapsing during the season-opening game vs. Scarsdale. The death prompted the district to briefly suspend all sports while it investigated how an athlete with a serious heart ailment was allowed to participate.

   Newburgh Free Academy tri-captain James Arline, a 17-year-old senior linebacker, fell ill shortly after an October 1992 road game and died of a stroke. It was uncertain whether it was related to a blow suffered in the game.

   Torrance Wright Jr., a 17-year-old lineman for Rochester's Franklin High, collapsed and died during a four-team scrimmage in Livonia the week before the start of the 1999 regular season.

   Spackenkill junior football player Mark Milano died Oct. 7, 2006, from complications involving pain medication at his football site

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home a day after dislocating an ankle during a game at Millbrook.

   In July 2012, Nicholas Dellaventura, 15, died after being overcome by heat during an offseason workout at St. Joseph-by-the-Sea.

   According to the Annual Survey of Football Injury Research prepared by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, there were 25 fatal injuries to U.S. high school football players between 2003 and 2013. After two directly related deaths each year from 2009 to 2011 and then none in 2012, there were eight such fatalities in 2013.

   New York athletes in other sports have not been immune.

   In April 2007, Pittsford freshman lacrosse player Jeff Milano-Johnson, 14, died after he was struck in the back of his head just below the helmet by a ball during warmups before a game at Spencerport.

   Another freshman lacrosse player died in March 2000. Louis Acompora, a Northport goalie, was struck in the chest by a ball during a freshman game. Acompora, 14, suffered commotio cordis, a rare form of cardiac arrest considered reversible with the assistance of an automated external defibrillator, which typically was not available at sports contests at that time.

   His parents became active in raising awareness through the Louis Acompora Foundation, and then-Gov. George Pataki signed into law a bill in June 2002 requiring that a portable defibrillator be placed in each high school. "Louis' Law" was the nation's first to require AEDs, which are now commonplace at schools, public buildings and sporting events in many states.

   Binghamton High lacrosse player John Mack died Nov. 30, 2006, two days after suffering cardiac arrest when checked across the chest during a pickup lacrosse game in the offseason.

   New York City-area runners Stephanie Companioni (St. Thomas Aquinas) and Tanya Lovelace (St. Francis Prep), collapsed and died in February and April 1991, after competing. Both were reported to be instances of sudden heart failure.

   In April 2007, runner Arielle Newman, 17, of Staten Island's Notre Dame Academy died when her body absorbed lethal levels of methyl salicylate, an ingredient found in sore muscle treatments like BenGay, Icy Hot and Tiger Balm. Newman was using a cream, adhesive pads containing the anti-inflammatory and another product with the chemical, the medical examiner determined.

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