JACKSON, Miss.–Heat was a factor in Walker Wilbanks’ Monday death, but his doctor said at a news conference Monday afternoon that the Jackson Prep football player’s condition was rare and nothing could have been done differently to prepare for or prevent it.
Essentially what happened is that Wilbanks’ sweated too quickly to replace the sodium that he lost, and that imbalance caused the water to leak into his brain.
“He would not have sweated as much, he would not have had the losses of water and salt if the heat wasn’t as bad,” said Dr. Joe Pressler, who was Wilbanks’ doctor at UMMC.
Wilbanks had complained of cramps in the second half off the Jackson Prep v. Oxford game Friday. He also vomited before collapsing and being rushed to the ER, where he had a seizure.
Wilbanks died shortly before 1 p.m. Monday.
“This was an isolated incident, this wasn’t anything he could’ve prepared differently for. This isn’t anything his coaches could’ve prepared differently for. This is just a really really bad occurrence,” said Pressler.
Jackson Prep released this statement following Wilbanks’ death:
My heart is broken as I write this letter to you. I am reaching out to share we have been notified by the family of the passing of Walker Wilbanks. Since our home football game against Oxford High School, the singular focus of this community has been prayer. We have been on our knees in prayer individually, in prayer circles, at houses of worship and here on campus. We have been praying fervently for a miracle that the health and well-being of our beloved friend and student, Walker, would be restored.
A prayer vigil was held by friends and family.