CBSN

School Athlete Deaths Preventable?

The cause of San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion's death last weekend remains a mystery, but the 23-year-old's case has focused attention on a silent heart condition that may kill hundreds every year.

And, as Mika Brzezinski

, it hits close to home for the parents of a high school football star who also died without warning.

Ryan Boslet, says Brzezinski, had it all.

At 17, he had colleges around the country chomping at the bit to recruit him, making his parents, Chris and Sandy Boslet, beam with pride.

Sifting through a large stack of recruitment letters from schools, Sandy told Brzezinski, "What he lived for was right here."

Ryan never got those letters. A week before many of them arrived, he collapsed at practice.

Chris and Sandy rushed to the school to find Ryan lying flat on the gym floor, as his coaches frantically tried to revive him.

"We knew something was really wrong then," Sandy says. "You're just in shock. It's just not real."

Ryan had been the picture of health, his parents say, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital an hour later.

No one had a clue there was anything wrong before the end came, Sandy says.

But the Boslets now believe there was a huge warning sign, hidden inside their son's heart, and that a simple electrocardiogram (EKG) "absolutely" could have saved him.

"It would have been a 15 minute procedure," Chris says, "and they would have seen it."

An autopsy showed Ryan had a silent heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM.

By one estimate, as many as 300 people die from it each year, and the vast majority will be athletes under 18.

"If there's something that will detect it … then I think we should utilize those machines that will save our kids' lives," Sandy says.

The Boslets are pushing for all schools to require EKGs and ultrasounds before clearing any kid to play sports.