Max Gilpin's father speaks exclusively to WHAS11


by Renee Murphy

Posted on September 17, 2010 at 9:12 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 17 at 9:29 PM

(WHAS11)  It’s his only interview since settling a lawsuit with Jefferson County Public Schools over his son’s death.  Jeff Gilpin is talking about his son Max who collapsed at football practice on a warm afternoon at Pleasure Ridge Park High School; Max died on that day two years ago.

WHAS11’s Renee Murphy sat down with Jeff Gilpin, who said he wants to set the record straight about his son’s death, for this exclusive interview.

Jeff Gilpin is at peace.  There are no more court dates and no more investigations.  Despite his loss, Jeff believes his son’s death brought awareness and attention to the dangers of heat related illnesses.  “If God chose him to die for this purpose, so maybe others would see and not have to go through this, I’m ok with that.”

Fifteen-year-old Max Gilpin died after collapsing at a hot football practice on a warm afternoon at PRP High School in August, 2008.  His parents eventually sued the school district claiming negligence and settled out of court for $1.75 million. The judgment will be paid by the district’s insurance; as part of the deal the district doesn’t admit fault.

“I couldn’t believe the people I trusted turned their backs and wasn’t even watching him.  His defense was he didn’t know, he didn’t know what was going on, he didn’t know Antonio and Max went down.  You’re a head coach, it is your responsibility and the other coaches to know what is going on, if not, who?” said Jeff.

He says after learning more details about what happened that day, he believes his son’s life could have been saved and the practice should have stopped.  He would like an apology, but isn’t looking for one.  “It would be nice, but that would be an admission of guilt; but he is too arrogant to do that,” he said.  Max’s coach, Jason Stinson, was criminally charged with his death, but was acquitted.

During the trial the defense had a witness who said Max’s Attention Deficit Disorder medication, Adderall, may have contributed to his death.  “I don’t believe that; that’s bull.  There were 11 other kids there that day, probably hundreds of kids across the county alone that were on it.”

There was also speculation that Max was taking the sport supplement Creatin at the time of his death; Jeff said that’s not true.  They basically tried to blame Max for his death; they brought up the Adderall, they brought up the Creatin that he took back in the spring.”
At the end of this painful journey, Jeff Gilpin is a father who misses his son and hopes his death was not in van.  Jeff said he wants to use his portion of the settlement money to go towards the Beat the Heat Foundation; it’s a non-profit he started to bring awareness to heat illnesses.

He said he also wants to use the money to build a memorial at PRP.

We tried to reach Jason Stinson for comment.  He said he did not want to be interviewed at this time.