Parents of Florida player who died of heatstroke file suit

Updated: August 13, 2003, 3:48 PM ET

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The parents of a University of Florida football player who died from heatstroke suffered at summer training camp are suing the school, its athletic department and the hospital where he was treated.

The wrongful death suit filed by Eraste Autin's parents, Dr. David L. Autin and Joan Autin, says athletic department officials were negligent and careless in "failing to prevent, detect or treat the heat-related injury." The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, also says Shands Teaching Hospitals and Clinics caused Autin's death through negligent and careless treatment.

Autin was a 240-pound freshman fullback participating in voluntary workouts on July 19, 2001, when he became disoriented while returning to the UF locker room from the practice field. He ran past the gate leading to the football facility and began to stagger, witnesses said.

Autin was taken to Shands, where he died six days later.

No one answered Wednesday at his parent's telephone number in Lafayette, La., and their attorney, Virginia Buchanan of Pensacola, was out of the office and unavailable for comment.

The athletic department said in a statement that "those involved with Eraste's training and care were conscientious and consistently placed the well-being of our student-athletes as our top priority."

University spokesman Steve Orlando and Shands spokeswoman Kimberly Rose said Wednesday they could not comment on the suit, which was filed last month.

Florida players have honored Autin by wearing a black patch on their uniforms reading "A-Ross" for the past two seasons. There is also a plaque honoring Autin on the practice field, and his picture has been included in each of the three UF media guides since his death in memoriam.

In a similar case, the widow of Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer filed suit against the National Football League last month, claiming the league fosters a "deadly culture" of abusive exercise that contributed to her husband's death. Stringer collapsed of heatstroke during training camp in 2001. He died 15 hours later.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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