CATEGORY: FOC College Football

AUTHOR: PHELPS

HED:Doctors may never know exactly what happened to McGee

By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

A physician at Mississippi State University says there is no way to know if football player Keffer McGee had a heart attack before he drowned Tuesday at an apartment complex swimming pool in Starkville.

"It's pure speculation," said Dr. Bob Collins, director of MSU's student health center. "There's no way to know that from the autopsy."

Collins said the clinical findings of a heart attack take about four to six hours to develop in tissues.

"(McGee) died too soon after whatever event happened to be able to verify that one way or the other," he said. "A perfectly healthy young adult who has no symptoms at 22, sudden cardiac death would be very unlikely.

"I can't say that it didn't happen. It is a distinct possibility."

The coroner's report released Wednesday indicated that 90 percent of McGee's left coronary artery was blocked and that there was evidence of hardening of the arteries.

Collins said there was no way for doctors to detect McGee's condition.

"If (McGee) were having enough restriction of blood flow, he should have had chest pain, and he never had that," Collins said. "The only time he had chest pain was two years ago when he got hit in the ribs pretty bad in a game. He had some pretty sore ribs."

Collins said McGee would have told him if he was having chest pain.

"At some point, later in his life, he would have had some angina (chest pain)," Collins said.

McGee, who reportedly knew how to swim, was at the pool with an unidentified female friend who authorities said could not swim.

Emergency officials received a call at 10:39 p.m. Tuesday reporting a possible drowning. When rescue workers arrived they found McGee in the bottom of the pool.

McGee rushed for 1,647 yards and scored 16 touchdowns during his career at MSU. His season was cut short last year by a knee injury torn ligament in the Bulldogs' third game against South Carolina. He underwent surgery and extensive rehab to prepare for his return this season. He was scheduled to begin fall practice with the Bulldogs this week.

Services for McGee will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at the West Lowndes High School gymnasium.

The family will receive friends from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Lee Sykes Funeral Home in Columbus. The body will lie in state from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday at the West Lowndes gymnasium.

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