A former high school football coach heads to trial Monday, charged with reckless homicide in the death of one of his players, and has the backing of nearly a dozen coaches organizations that have contributed to his defense fund.
Pleasure Ridge Park coach David Jason Stinson also faces a wanton endangerment charge in the death of 15-year-old offensive lineman Max Gilpin, who collapsed during practice while running in 94-degree heat last August and died three days later.
Rodney Daugherty, who organized a Web site dedicated to raising money for Stinson’s legal defense said contributions from coaching organizations from as far away as Minnesota and South Carolina have helped raise nearly $90,000.
“I think every coach in the nation should be behind this guy, because this could be any one of them,” Daugherty said.
Jimmie Reed, executive director of the Kentucky Football Coaches Association, says his group contributed to Stinson’s defense because it believes Gilpin’s death was an accident.
“I think it’s a very unfortunate situation, it was an act of God that’s completely out of our hands,” he said. “I don’t see where, from what I’ve been told and read, I don’t see where Coach Stinson did anything that could have prevented it.”
Witnesses at an adjacent soccer field the day Gilpin collapsed told police Stinson denied players water while they ran a series of sprints at the end of practice.
Witnesses who were regulars at practices told police nothing appeared out of the ordinary until Gilpin fell.
An investigation by Jefferson County Public Schools ruled out any wrongdoing by Stinson, though Jefferson Circuit Judge Susan Schultz Gibson ruled that the school report will not be part of the trial.
Reed said coaches all across the country will watch the trial carefully, and he’s fearful of what a guilty verdict may mean.
“Some of the executive directors of coaches’ associations are real concerned about what’s going to happen with this trial because of the downfall that could come,” Reed said. “They are very concerned about what might happen to the profession.”
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