HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- A coroner says a South Carolina high school football player died as a result of a sudden irregular heartbeat brought on by an enlarged heart.
Darlington County Coroner J. Todd Hardee said Saturday that an autopsy revealed 18-year-old Ronald Rouse suffered a fatal sudden cardiac arrhythmia resulting from a congenital enlarged heart.
Rouse was a 6-foot-3, 320-pound lineman for Hartsville High School who collapsed during the second quarter of the team's homecoming game Friday night against Crestwood. School officials say Rouse called timeout and collapsed, and then collapsed again after being revived and trying to walk off the field.
He was treated by four physicians and two athletic trainers, who used a defibrillator to try shocking his heart. Rouse was pronounced dead at an area hospital.
After Rouse collapsed, the teams played the remaining 3:39 of the first half, and with Hartsville up 27-7, the school conducted its homecoming celebration and crowned a king and queen.
The players didn't return to the field for the second half, and Hartsville principal Charles Burry announced over the public-address system that the game was suspended due to the seriousness of Rouse's condition.
Some fans wept as the stands quietly emptied, the Morning News reported.
A large crowd, including team members still in uniform, gathered later outside the emergency room at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center. Some consoled one another as they waited to express their grief to Rouse's family.
The mayor, who ordered flags be flown at half-mast, urged residents "to take a moment and ask God to be with this family, to help them find peace in this chaos, and to help this team deal with the grief and shock of losing a brother."