Seventh-Grade Football Player Collapses During Game

Child rushed by helicopter to Cook Children's Medical Center

By Frank Heinz
|  Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011  |  Updated 11:14 PM CDT
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A seventh-grade Azle boy is in good condition less than 24 hours after he collapsed and stopped breathing during a junior high football game Tuesday evening.

Ashanti Blaize, NBCDFW.com

A seventh-grade Azle boy is in good condition less than 24 hours after he collapsed and stopped breathing during a junior high football game Tuesday evening.

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A seventh-grade Azle boy is in good condition less than 24 hours after he collapsed and stopped breathing during a junior high football game Tuesday evening.

The boy, whose name has not been released, was on the field when he suddenly collapsed, coach Tim Spoonemore said.  Unaware of how severe the boy's injury may be, Spoonemore and coach Brad Averitte rushed on to the field and turned the boy over with Averitte bracing the athlete's neck.

The coaches quickly realized the boy was unresponsive and had no pulse.  While Spoonemore began performing CPR, Averitte continued to brace the boy's neck while talking to him, comforting him and trying to get him to respond. After a short time, a parent stepped in and took over CPR while Spoonemore left to get one of two automated external defibrillators.

Rita White, a nurse with the district who happened to be watching the game from the stands, said she ran onto the field to help when she saw that the coaches had started CPR. A short time later assistant principal Brian Roberts arrived with the first AED. White, who trains district employees to use the device, then used the device on the player -- and he began to breathe.

"I saw his stomach start moving, and that was just the greatest thing," Spoonemore said during a news conference Wednesday. "When I saw him ... getting in the ambulance and he was breathing, that just made my heart jump out of my body almost." (VideoSee his entire segment here)

The player was eventually rushed by helicopter to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, where he remains Wednesday.

The boy's family has decided not to speak publicly, but did say Wednesday morning that their son is in good condition and that everyone involved in saving their son's life is a hero.

"It was a team effort. Everyone was here. Everyone had a very important part.  No one person is a hero," said White. (Video: See her entire segment here)

"Going over the scenario again and reliving what everybody in the community from the coaches, to the nurses, to the parents, to the administration, everything that they've done has really made today a fantastic day. A young man has life, a father has a son, a mother has a son and it doesn't get any better than that," said Averitte. (VideoSee his entire segment here)

Azle superintendent Ray Lea arrived at Azle Junior High School minutes after it happened Tuesday and said the entire experience was surreal and that he is the world's biggest fan of having AEDs on campus.

"Everybody there was in tears and just really shocked. This is just unheard of at a junior high school football game. It was surreal," Lea said. "I couldn't be any more proud of my staff to perform the way they did and rescue this young man. I don't think the young man would be here without the AED." (Video: See his entire segment here)

Coaches said all students are required to have physicals before playing football and that the student-athlete had no known medical issues.  Spoonemore said it'll be up to the boy's parents and doctors if he is able to play in the future.

The Texas Legislature passed a law in 2007 requiring all schools to have defibrillators and have them available during sporting events and most practices.

NBC 5's Amanda Fitzpatrick, Julie Tam and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.

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