Perth teen died of multiple organ failure after rugby training on 44 degree day

Pic. Torran Thomas/Facebook
Pic. Torran Thomas/Facebook

A teenager died from multiple organ failure three days after he succumbed to heatstroke during rugby league training in Perth, an inquest has heard today.

Torran Jake Thomas, who was 190cm tall and weighed 122kg at age 15, had been pushing himself hard on the first day back at training with the West Coast Pirates junior academy following the Christmas break on January 5, 2015.

Temperatures peaked at 44.4C but training went ahead in the evening after it had eased to 34.3C and there was a breeze.

The West Australian Coroners Court heard on Monday that players were advised via Facebook earlier in the day to drink plenty of water before training.

Edward Easter, who was then an NRL game development officer but quit sports training after Torran’s death, arrived early to check conditions and ensure all that was needed was there, including water and ice.

He went through the NRL heat guidelines checklist, which assesses 10 factors, and landed on a score of 57.

Training can go ahead for scores of between 56 and 65, but precautions are recommended including more drink breaks.

Mr Easter also started off the shorter session with a longer than usual talk to the teenagers to give more time for conditions to cool.

He said Torran, a determined boy, was pushing himself hard and performing well at first.

But he began to struggle, slowed in pace then stopped completely and lay down.

He was out of breath but could communicate, saying he was exhausted and was encouraged to get up to stop lactic acid building up in his bloodstream, coach Luke Young said.

“I just assumed he was conceding to the fatigue and tried to get him to push through,” Mr Young said.

Mr Easter said he also thought Torran was just tired at that point.

After he lay down a second time, the teen began to mumble, then closed his eyes and stopped talking.

His breathing and pulse rates, which had settled, came back up again, alarming Mr Easter as these were signs of heatstroke, not just heat exhaustion.

“I hadn’t seen that before,” he said.

“I was a bit surprised by the way it went.”

Torran was placed in the recovery position and attempts were made to cool him with ice. But his condition deteriorated and an ambulance was called, with paramedics recording his temperature as 39.2C.

Mr Young said he was confident all that could have been done to help the boy had been done.

“I acknowledge it was hot … but I don’t believe it was the hottest day … to the point where it felt unsafe,” he said.

“It just didn’t strike me as an extremely hot day, given Perth summer.”