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'People are just born with things': Bibb coroner speaks on Southwest football player's death from heart defect

Coroner Leon Jones said medical examiners told him the heat could not have caused Ivory's condition.

MACON, Ga. — Medical examiners say Macon's July heat did not kill Southwest High School football player Joshua Ivory Junior. 

That's according to Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones.

According to GBI medical examiners, an irregular heartbeat caused Ivory's death.

Jones says Ivory's mother told him Joshua had no prior symptoms, and she did not know about his heart condition.

Jones said he knew 15-year-old Ivory's death wasn't heat-related.

"The reason I knew it wasn't heat-related was because of his temperature, but I don't like to speculate and I don't like to guess. That's the purpose of an autopsy," Jones said.

Jones says his exact cause of death was cardiac dysrhythmia.

That's an abnormal heart rhythm, which caused his heart to go into cardiac arrest.

"A lot of people are just born with things, congenital heart problems that will be aggravated under stress, or certain things would aggravate it which would send you into an abnormal rhythm," Jones said.

Jones said medical examiners told him the heat could not have caused Ivory's condition.

"I have talked with several cardiologists. They have told me how something congenital would flare up just like that, without any notice. A lot of times, you don't have any symptoms at all. It just flares up," Jones said.

The rising sophomore collapsed during practice on July 26. He died about an hour later at a Macon hospital. Macon's heat index that night was around 105 degrees. Jones says Ivory's mother is still processing.

"She's still in shock. She lost a good child, a 15-year-old kid," Jones said.

After Ivory's death, the Bibb County School District placed both Southwest coach Joe Dupree and offensive coordinator Robert Cummings on administrative leave while they investigated.

A week later, Dupree was back on the job.

Stephanie Hartley with the school district confirmed Thursday night Cummings is no longer with the district.

Ivory was a lineman for the Southwest Patriots.

The Bibb County School District released the following statement from Superintendent Curtis Jones: “It’s good to get the results back, but this is still a sad day, because a family has lost a loved one. Our thoughts continue to be with the family of Joshua Ivory."

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