Riverdale High football player succumbs to heatstroke

FORT MYERS, Fla. A Riverdale High School student died Monday after he was taken off life support following a heatstroke sustained during football practice, the family said in a press release.

Zachary Polsenberg. Photo via Kathleen Johnson

Zachary Tyler Martin-Polsenberg, 16, was running drills at the high school on June 29 when he suddenly collapsed, according to the release.

Polsenberg was immediately taken to Golisano Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with heatstroke, according the release. Polsenberg suffered internal injuries and fell into a coma after his core temperature was at 107 degrees for more than an hour.

Polsenberg was moved to a hospital in Miami on Thursday for more care, but his condition worsened, according to the release.

The school district sent an email and an automated phone call to parents Tuesday informing them of Polsenberg’s death. Below is a transcript of the call:

“This is Scott Cook, principal at Riverdale High School.  It is with deep sadness that I am calling to inform you of the loss of one of our students, Zach Polsenberg.  At this difficult time, our thoughts, prayers, and love are with Zach’s family.  Zach was an amazing young man and the Riverdale family’s hearts are broken.  Our immediate focus is to provide any and all support that we can to our students, staff, coaches, and most importantly, Zach’s family.  Please continue to keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.”  

Coaches rendered aid and called 911 when Polsenberg collapsed, Lee County school district spokeswoman Melissa Mickey said. A parent of Polsenberg was on school grounds at the time.

This practice was part of offseason conditioning and took place from 7 to 10:30 a.m., Mickey said. It involved both indoor and outdoor sessions and water breaks were given at least every 30 minutes.

Players were encouraged to stop and hydrate between the breaks, and Florida High School Athletic Association guidelines were followed, Mickey said.

Reporter:Brooke Shafer