12-year-old’s heatstroke death prompts football changes

One day after a 12-year-old boy died from a heatstroke he suffered at football practice two weeks ago, Fulton County officials said they’re making changes to local athletic associations, according to Channel 2 Action News.

Johnny Tolbert was doing conditioning drills when he had a heatstroke July 14 in 90-degree weather in South Fulton County. Tolbert died Thursday night and will be buried next week, Channel 2 reported.

“Of course, his mom and dad are both devastated,” Tolbert’s aunt, Rozhange Landers, told the station. “It’s their only child (and) a terrible loss.”

The Fulton Parks and Recreation Department suspended all football practices in the wake of the incident, Channel 2 reported. The county has also ordered that local athletic associations prove its coaches are properly certified, including being trained on heat and hydration protocols and concussion prevention.

The county also said it will implement additional measures, Channel 2 reported.

While the measures could help save another young athlete’s life, Tolbert’s family is still trying to come to grips with his death.

“We’re totally depending on God’s grace and His peace to get us through this,” Landers told Channel 2. “We don’t know any other way.”

The family set up a GoFundMe account to assist with funeral costs. It had raised more than $6,300 as of Friday afternoon.