Officials say football player's death demonstrates need for stricter health monitoring among teen athletes

By Maggie Vespa

August 13, 2012 Updated Aug 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM CDT

Neither Daniel Lule nor his family knew his health and heart were in danger.

But Bureau County Coroner Janice Wamhoff says the condition that caused the Spring Valley teen to collapse and die Wednesday, day one of his high school's football practice, was likely something he'd had since birth.

"His heart should have been no bigger than about 450 grams. His heart was 780 grams," she said. "His heart took up the biggest portion of his chest."

Wamhoff says Lule's enlarged heart could have given out at any time.

The problem-- there were no warning signs, and being a teen, he had only had regular sports physicals.

In Illinois, those do not include detailed heart exams.

Within the last few years, other states, namely California, have upped those standards.

"Out there, everyone who has a sports physical has an EKG done. If we had had an EKG done here, we would have seen how big his heart was," said Wamhoff.

Wamhoff says she would like to see required EKG's, or echocardiograms, implemented here at home.

She encourages players, coaches and parents to lead the charge.

"There are thousands of kids throughout all the schools in Illinois and other states who are doing this sports physicals and don't have a clue what's going on," she said.

And it's an effort she hopes moves quickly, before another teen falls victim to this silent killer.

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