A 32-year-old former New York Giants offensive lineman and Super Bowl winner died of heat stroke after working outside in triple-digit temperatures in his native Arkansas, officials said Friday.
Mitch Petrus, who played three seasons in the NFL, was pronounced dead at 10:45 p.m. Thursday at Baptist Health Medical Center in North Little Rock, Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs told NBC News.
The high temperature in Little Rock on Thursday was 92 degrees, with a heat index of 103 degrees, as the city like much of the nation is struggling through a brutal — and now deadly — heat wave.
“He was working at his family shop, outside … and suffered heat stroke,” Hobbs said. “He was drinking water but not enough electrolytes.”
The 6-foot-2, 350-pound Petrus did not appear to have any serious pre-existing medical condition that contributed to his heat-stroke death, according to Hobbs.
The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department received a call for a medical emergency at the family’s towing business, X-Hog Wrecker and Roadside, at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, authorities said.
Petrus graduated from the University of Arkansas in December 2009 with a degree in agricultural business.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mitch Petrus,” according to a statement from the University of Arkansas. “He was an outstanding competitor, incredible teammate and a true Hog. He will be greatly missed by many. Rest easy Mitch.”
Chris Mortenson, who covers pro football for ESPN, said his family was close to the former player.
“We are grieving the loss of Mitch Petrus, a close friend of our family, especially my son Alex,” Mortenson tweeted.
Hobbs, a native of Carlisle, Arkansas, was an all-Southeastern Conference performer in college who blocked for future NFL running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
“He’s a joy to be around, he’d put a smile on anybody’s face, brighten up any room he walks into,” McFadden told KARK, an NBC affiliate in Little Rock. “He’s going to missed a whole lot. It’s really tough. It’s really hard to swallow that news.”
Petrus played in 27 games in a three-season NFL career with the New York Giants, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans.
He played in the Giants’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots on Feb. 5, 2012.