Catastrophic Consequences

In the fall of 2008 alone, at least five young athletes died from their sport-induced head injuries.24Sixteenyear- old Ryne Dougherty of Montclair, New Jersey died in October from a brain hemorrhage. Dougherty had sustained a concussion in practice three weeks previous and had been medically cleared to play despite complaining to friends of blurred vision and headaches. Seventeen-year-old running back Douglas Morales, also of New Jersey, collided helmet first with a defender’s shoulder pads during practice and collapsed on his way to the sideline. He spent four days in a coma before succumbing to his traumatic brain injury. Vinny Rodriguez, a sophomore running back and safety from Boron, California suffered the same fate after sustaining a head injury while making a routine tackle during a game. He underwent surgery to relieve swelling but died four days later. Atlas Fraley of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was pulled from the football practice field after complaining of a severe headache. After being sent home, Fraley, an offensive lineman, called 9-1-1 and complained to the dispatcher that his body was “hurting all over.” Paramedics went to his home, determined Fraley was just dehydrated. He received fluids but was not transported to a hospital. Several hours later, Fraley was found dead in his family’s living room. Matt Gfeller, a high school sophomore from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, died August 24 after a hit he sustained led to a cranial bleed. And sixteen-year-old Jaquan Waller from Greenville, North Carolina. The junior running back collapsed on the sideline after being tackled. He was transported to the hospital, was brain dead by the next morning and eventually taken off life support. The medical examiner concluded Waller had suffered a mild concussion in practice two days previous. That injury went undetected and undiagnosed. The hit he sustained during the Friday night game triggered massive swelling of the brain and he died from Second Impact Syndrome.