Teen dies during football practice in Burke County

Luke Killian played for the Morganton Mountaineers. (Source: Facebook)
Luke Killian played for the Morganton Mountaineers. (Source: Facebook)
Killian was at Freedom Park in Morganton when he collapsed.
Killian was at Freedom Park in Morganton when he collapsed.

BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A 16-year-old Caldwell County boy died while doing warm-up exercises prior to a football game in Burke County Thursday evening.

Luke Killian played for the Morganton Mountaineers, which is a team affiliated with a league made up of other home schooled children.

Killian, who lived in Collettesville, was at Freedom Park on Independence Boulevard in Morganton with a group of other football players when he collapsed and was taken to the hospital.

On Friday, Killian's coach described the teen as a "good kid" and the kind of person every team needs.

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"He played football, but he wasn't all about football, he was about enjoying life and having friends," coach Doug Deitz told WBTV's Steve Ohnesorge.

Deitz says Killian and some friends and teammates got together for an impromptu practice Thursday night.

They had just started and finished a few sit-ups when Killian begin to collapse.

"One of the boys noticed he coughed and something was going wrong, he dropped to a knee and kind of went over from there," Deitz said.

Burke County EMS told WBTV.com they received a heat exposure call around 6:11 p.m.

Killian was transported to Grace Hospital in Morganton, but he never regained consciousness. Doctors pronounced him dead at the hospital.

Deitz said Killian has always passed his pre-season physical and that his last one was in August.

Jesse Deitz played alongside Killian for years.

"He was goofing around and stuff, always smiling," Deitz said.

He says everyone liked Killian.

For the team, having Killian around made everyone better, not just in football.

"Continue to pray for 'em, pray for the family, and just think about the lives he was able to touch," the coach said.

The team will retire Killian's jersey and give it to the family.

They will go on with the upcoming season, but it just won't be the same, they say.

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