Autopsy: Pneumonia killed 18-year-old football player

Eddie Key died from pneumonia, autopsy results show.

Key, an 18-year-old Wayne State College football player, died after bacterial pneumonia filled his lungs with fluid, Deputy Wayne County Amy Miller said Thursday in a news release.

His mother, Stephanie Key, said Thursday she didn’t know her son had pneumonia, or was sick at all.

“We had no idea,” she said. “If we would’ve known, we would’ve done something.

“That’s what I’m wrestling with right now.”

Key, who grew up in north central Lincoln and went to North Star High School, was found dead in his dorm room Saturday evening.

His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, with a viewing from noon to 7 p.m. Friday at Metcalf Funeral Home.

Key probably died in his sleep Saturday morning, Miller said earlier. Someone last saw him alive about 4 a.m.

Key graduated from North Star in 2013 and was named to the second-team All-Nebraska football squad. He received Super-State honors as an offensive lineman his junior and senior years. He was a defensive end on Wayne State’s roster.

When Key’s mother talked about her son with a well-wisher on the phone Thursday afternoon, the conversation turned to the gridiron.

Eddie Key used to walk half a block every Saturday morning to see if his performance on the field landed him in the paper. Not so he could brag, his mom said, but because he was happy to do well enough to catch people’s attention.

“He just had that love for football,” she said. “He loved it and he made me love it.

“His fire for it made me excited.”

Severe infection can cause a buildup of fluid in the lungs and make it hard to breathe, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The autopsy answered some questions, but not all of them, Stephanie Key said.

She wonders if her son knew he was sick and he knew how bad it was. She wonders why he didn’t tell her.

“We still don’t know all the answers,” she said. “We as a family want to know. This part is just so hard.”

She may never get answers to all the questions, but she said she knows life will go on, even if she hasn’t figured out yet how to go with it.

“I have to move on. I have to heal,” she said. “I have to figure out how to do that.”

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