Parents of dead high school football stars suing

(CBS News) ATLANTA -- Many high schools across the nation are starting football practice now, and the summer heat can make those first few days on the field dangerous.

Just last week, a 15-year-old collapsed and died after football drills on New York's Staten Island.

In Florida, high school football star Isaiah Laurencin was just 16, but already had an athletic scholarship offer from Notre Dame and was a six-foot-three, 286 pound powerhouse.

But last summer, on his first two-a-day practice, in stifling heat, Isaiah collapsed and died.

His mother, Angela Cooper, says, "I just don't understand how this happened, because my son was in the hospital the year prior. He was hospitalized for heat exhaustion."

He had the same coaches and was in the same school.

"I still don't understand how they allowed it to happen a second time," Cooper says.

Days later, Georgia high school football star D.J. Searcy succumbed to a grueling three-a-day practice schedule at a football camp.

The last time his parents saw D.J. alive was in a photo a fellow player texted to his mom's phone.

His father, Carlton Searcy, recalled that, "Jaclyn received a text message from one of the kids who had taken a picture of our son laying on the floor, and he told her, 'You need to check on your baby.' ... But we still hadn't heard from the coaches. ... No one would answer the phone."

Later, they learned he'd also collapsed after practice the night before, and allegedly got no medical attention.

Authorities in both cases blame other conditions -- not the heat.

Isaiah had a sickle cell trait, and they claim D.J. had an undiagnosed heart condition.

But their parents disagree.

They're announcing lawsuits Tuesday over the schools' alleged negligence.

At least 78 football players in the U.S. have died of heat-related causes since 1975 - seven last year alone.

Attorney Benjamin Crump represents both families.

"The NFL, the NCAA have more guidelines, more protections to protect adults than high schools have to protect children, and that's simply not acceptable," Crump says. " ... Every doctor, to a one has said these deaths are completely avoidable. These children are dying because people aren't watching the signs."

Experts say if heat victims are simply immersed in a cold bath within 10 minutes of collapse, they all survive.

University of Georgia researcher Michael Ferrera says all states should adopt guidelines from the National Athletic Trainers Association. He explains that the guidelines say, "The first five days of football practice, or of any practice for that matter, is a maximum of two hours, and no equipment except for a helmet in the sport of football."

Only seven states have adopted these safety guidelines, which include having an athletic trainer and an ice bath onsite.

"There's no win that's worth the life of my child -- anyone's child, actually," Carlton Searcy says. "He paid the ultimate price."

"I just wish I had my son here, you know?" says Cooper.

Georgia adopted the safety guidelines only after D.J.'s death.

To see Sharyl Attkisson's report, click on the video in the player above.

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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