Prep Athlete Who Collapsed in Weight Room Has Died

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A two-sport high school athlete who was hospitalized Tuesday after collapsing during a weight-lifting class has died.

Ben Johnson, a sophomore who played football and baseball at Fleming Island (Fla.) High School, died just before noon Thursday at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, where he had been in critical condition for two days. Reports indicate that Johnson’s heart stopped, causing irreversible brain damage.

On the day Johnson collapsed, the Clay County School District released the following statement: “A Fleming Island High School student passed out today while he was working out in the weight room during school hours. EMS was called immediately and he was transported to a nearby hospital. He was transferred to Wolfson Children’s Hospital where he is in critical condition. We are not releasing the student’s name at this time, but he is a sophomore who plays football and baseball.”

Practices were immediately canceled that day, and by Wednesday, Johnson’s identity became known when his family released a statement to Jacksonville’s WJAX-TV. At 1:21 p.m. Thursday, the Florida High School Athletics Association tweeted, “The #FHSAA family mourns the loss of @FIEagleSports student-athlete Ben Johnson. Please keep his family in your thoughts.”

At Fleming Island’s junior-varsity game Thursday night, players wore helmet stickers bearing Johnson’s initials and jersey number, and they joined other mourners in forming the number 78 on the field while clapping and chanting Johnson’s name. Fleming Island travels to Ridge View High School for a varsity game tonight.

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