Florida community mourns death of football player

Coach told 911 operator it was 'head injury,' autopsy results could take weeks

SEBASTIAN, Fla. - The Sebastian River High football team ended its preseason camp early and returned to Indian River County without a freshman player who died Wednesday after a morning practice the team was holding at Camp Blanding.

The entire team and the players' families went inside the school, where grief counselors were available to help them cope with the loss of 14-year-old William Shogran Jr. Everyone left about 20 minutes later.

Williams' mother, Maria Wray, issued this statement to News4Jax on Thursday:

"William was an amazing young man. He had such a caring heart and was loved by many. My William was a goofball and was always trying to make everyone laugh. He was a wonderful son and brother. On behalf of me, my husband Joseph, my son Mark, daughter Taylor, and daughter Angelina, we will miss you and love you. William is forever with us and I was a better and blessed woman to have such a son. Please keep us all in prayer."

Authorities said William became ill at the football camp. The Clay County Sheriff's Office was told that during a morning practice on the parade ground of the Florida National Guard base, William headed for the sidelines, complaining of being dizzy. 

The head coach said he provided William with water and helped him take off his shoulder pads and other equipment. When William began vomiting and having breathing problems, a 911 call was placed to Clay County Fire-Rescue at 10:47 p.m.

"I have a football player at camp that suffered from heat issues," the caller told a 911 operator.

When rescue workers arrived, William was unresponsive and they began CPR. He was taken to Shands Medical Center in Starke, but he could not be revived.

"And everything that poor baby's body must have went through trying to get him to come back and he just never recovered … he never came back," Wray told News4Jax. "I went to go see him but I wasn't allowed to touch him. And I wanted to at least touch him and say goodbye, but because of the investigation I wasn't allowed to touch him. None of us were."

William's father is a trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol, and rushed from Miami to the Starke hospital where William was taken.

A spokesman with the Indian River County School District said it is doing everything it can to help students, who are expected to return to school on Monday.

"We're sorry for the loss. I can only imagine how the parents feel and those who knew him," said Bill Fritz, assistant superintendent of the Indian River County School District. "If students are upset by it or directly impacted, we invite them to seek the support that we're offering them to try to get through this."

While the final cause of death may not be known for weeks, William's neighbor believes heat was a factor.

"I don't believe in getting these kids out in the heat like this," Carson Spencer said. "That was too hot."

The grieving mother sent this message to other parents: "Hug your kids all of the time and let them know that you love them."

A visitation for William will be Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Seawinds Funeral Home, 735 S. Fleming St., Sebastian, Florida. A memorial service will be held Tuesday at the Sebastian River High School Auditorium at 4 p.m.

Donations can be made to the William Shogran Scholarship Fund, c/o Sebastian Christian Church, 190 Day Dr., Sebastian, Florida, 32958.

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