Guest post: 29 Fatality Cases of American Football Players in 2013

Originally posted at, currently offline. 29 Death Cases of American Football Players, 2013

Guest re-posting of Matt Chaney's Blog

Posted Sunday, November 17, 2013

Collision deaths of American high-school football players have increased markedly during 2013, suggesting this is not the year, once again, for “behavior modification” of modern ramming players who strike according to natural physics and the techno force of bullet-head helmets.

“Heads Up Football”—the latest version of old “head up” form theory for helmet-less hitting in forward-colliding sport, invalid through application attempts since the 1960s yet promised today by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell—has not prevented the fatal head and neck injuries of at least six high-school players this year, likely more pending further announcements of postmortem findings.

Below are 6 annotated cases of reported collision deaths among preps, followed by 3 possible collision fatalities of teen players for the year thus far, through Sunday, according to this blog’s ongoing review of critical gridiron casualty cases in Google information banks

By comparison, only one prep fatality involving collision was reported last year for tackle football, 2012 online: Dana Payne, 15, Tennessee, a running back drilled in a scrimmage, unable to rise afterward, whose cause of death was bronchial asthma with torso impact contributing, according to the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office.

An additional 7 cases below are apparently game-related player deaths during 2013, with no link to impact injuries per information available at this time; the fatal conditions apparently originated from physical exertion and more bodily stress during football-specific activities.

Finally, 13 cases of active player deaths reported during 2013 can neither be verified nor nullified for hard link to football, for a total collection below of 29 cases.

As usual, for electronic reviews since 2011, ChaneysBlog makes no scientific claim of case listings beyond raw information and disavows any qualification as football epidemiology.

Several limitations restrict injury reporting in vast American football, if not outright nullifying reliable collecting among millions of players mostly juvenile, particularly regarding the worst cases.

These annotated casualty cases of American football players are compiled strictly of information available in Google, primarily news reports, and require highly specialized follow-up for sound medical qualification.

These cases do not include 2013 deaths of active football players such as suicides, drug overdoses and more dangerous behavior outside competition and training. No deaths of coaches, referees and other field officials are included.

My heartfelt condolences to every one of the families below.

Deaths of Football Injuries Reportedly Involving Collisions

May 13:  Jaleel Gipson, 17, Louisiana, a running back for Union Parish High School, sustained a fractured cervical vertebra while colliding in the head-on “Oklahoma Drill” during spring football practice on May 9. Four days later, Gipson was removed from life support and pronounced dead at hospital. “The injury occurred during a tackling drill,” reports Monroe sportswriter Cody Futrell. “Gipson was the ball carrier, and the coaching staff said he and the tackler used proper technique.” The school principal, David Gray, also contends that Heads Up theoretical technique, headless hitting, avoiding initial contact even by facemask, ruled a collision between players charging head-on that left one with a fatal broken neck. “Jaleel was carrying the football. He was head up in the exact position he needs to be,” Gray says. “The tackler led with shoulder as textbook, as taught and just an extremely unfortunate circumstance occurred. Tragic, a very tragic situation.” No video of the injury in practice was available online at time of this posting.

Aug. 16:  De’Antre Turman, 16, Georgia, defensive back/receiver for Creekside High School, suffered fracture of the C3 vertebra while making a tackle during a scrimmage. “Tre broke on [the ball carrier], dislodged the ball and his body just went limp,” says witness Glenn Ford, who coached Turman in offseason training. The teenager, a recruit of the University of Kentucky, was later pronounced dead at hospital. “It was a fundamental tackle,” Ford says. “[Turman’s] head was up. It was a clean tackle. It was a clean tackle. He went down. Only God knows. You know, only God knows what happened.” No video of the scrimmage tackle was available online at time of this posting.

Aug. 28:  Tyler Lewellen, 16, California, collapsed on sidelines during a scrimmage on Aug. 22, suffering a severe brain bleed. A CT scan revealed trauma and cerebral swelling and Lewellen remained comatose in ICU for five days, until life support was removed and he died soon after. Family members say doctors speculated whether the injury was a “second impact” from a previous undiagnosed concussion. Coaches say no clear evidence of a fatal head impact exists on video of the scrimmage, and on his last play Lewellen struck a ball carrier “with what appeared to be a glancing blow of the shoulder,” reports The New York Times. Autopsy results or video of the full scrimmage were not available online at time of this posting.

Sept. 16:  Damon Janes, 16, New York, running back for the Westfield-Brocton “combined” team between two small high schools, suffered severe brain bleeding during a game on Sept. 13 and died three days later at hospital. Teammates, family members, other parents and news media say Janes was injured by a helmet-to-helmet hit in the game’s third quarter. Meanwhile, Gary Swetland, coach of the opposing team, Portville High, said his review of game video found “no obvious play that would lend one to think that a catastrophic injury was occurring or would occur,” reports The Buffalo News. The Westfield-Brocton team’s remaining football season was cancelled following the tragedy. Final autopsy results and complete game video involving the injury were not available in Google at time of this posting.

Oct. 6:  Dylan Jeffries, 17, West Virginia, a running back/defensive back for South Harrison High School, suffered a “massive blood clot” of the brain during contact in a football game on Sept. 27. Emergency surgery relieved pressure and Jeffries was placed in a medically induced coma, but he died after nine days hospitalized. Family friend Mileena Beety wrote online: “To the Lincoln football team: Dylan knew many of you and was very excited about this game. Please do not blame yourselves if you tackled him or came in any contact with him throughout the game. He would have done the same to you if you were carrying the ball.”

Nov. 11:  Charles Youvella, teenager, Arizona, a senior running back/defensive back for Keams Canyon Hopi High School, suffered severe brain bleeding during a game and died two days later at hospital. “Midway through the fourth quarter [with his team trailing 60-6], Youvella caught a pass followed by what officials said appeared to be a typical football tackle. On the way down, the back of Youvella’s head hit the ground hard,” report Chris Williams and Richard Obert for Autopsy results were unavailable on Google at time of this posting.


Football Deaths Possibly Involving Collision, American Football 2013

Oct. 12:  Dodi Soza, 16, a running back for Downey High School, collapsed during a football game on Oct. 10 and died two days later at hospital. Soza had just scored a touchdown when he fell stricken, and initial reports of the casualty were of a possible cardiac arrest; later, Soza was reported to have sustained a brain injury. No confirmation or video of a collision injury was available in Google at time of this posting, nor were final autopsy results.

Oct. 29:  Jacob Vick, 15, Virginia, a linebacker for New Kent High School, collapsed during football practice and later died at hospital. New Kent coach Dan Rounds said the starting varsity linebacker had just returned to play following diagnosed brain trauma: “Rounds said Vick recently sat out a game after sustaining a concussion, but received medical clearance to play in [the Oct. 25] game against Lafayette. Rounds said that after consulting with Vick’s parents, he did not play Vick in the game against Lafayette,” reports Marty O’Brien for The Newport News Daily Press. Autopsy results were unavailable in Google at time of this posting.

Nov. 14:  Chad Stover, 17, Missouri, a football player for Tipton High School, suffered severe brain bleeding during a game on Oct. 31. Emergency surgery was performed and Stover remained comatose until dying two weeks after the injury. Autopsy results were publicly unavailable at time of this posting, and any evidence of football’s causing the brain hemorrhage remains unclear. An anonymous news source says Stover “had an undiagnosed preexisting medical condition, which may have been triggered by his participation in a contact sport,” reports KRCG-TV.



Player Deaths Involving Exertion or Stress of Football-Specific Activity

Jan. 5:  Chandler Williams, 27, wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Storm, of the Arena Football League, collapsed while competing in a flag-football tournament, dying of cardiac arrest. Williams formerly played in the National Football League.

Aug. 3:  Evan Raines, 16, North Carolina, a lineman for Seventy-First High School, experienced breathing problems after sprints to end football practice. Responders treated Raines for possible heat illness before he was transported to a hospital, where he later suffered cardiac arrest and died.

Aug. 7:  Mitchell Cook, 14, California, a football player at Canyon High School, collapsed during warm-up drills at practice and was pronounced dead at hospital, apparently of cardiac arrest. Family members said Cook had a pre-existing heart condition that wasn’t considered life-threatening.

Aug. 16:  Kaylan Carter, 16, California, a running back/defensive back for Enochs High School, collapsed of cardiac arrest during a weight-training session at the school on June 24. Carter remained comatose in ICU until life support was removed seven weeks later, and he died soon after.

Sept. 25:  Jake West, 17, Indiana, a linebacker for LaPorte High School, suffered cardiac arrest during football practice and was later pronounced dead at hospital. An autopsy revealed “right ventricular cardiomyopathy,” reports WNDU-TV.

Oct. 4:  Andre Maloney, 17, Kansas, a defensive back/receiver for Shawnee Mission West High School, suffered a cerebral stroke during a game on Oct. 3 and died the next day at hospital. Maloney, a recruit of the University of Kansas, had just scored a touchdown when he collapsed along a sideline.

Nov. 1:  Caleb Allridge, 16, Louisiana, a lineman for Covenant Christian Academy, collapsed at home and later died at hospital, of a pulmonary embolism. His brother, Wilfred “PJ” Allridge III, said Caleb had been sidelined for weeks because of a knee injury in football: “Caleb was recovering from a dislocated knee injury that forced him to miss several football games this season, and PJ said swelling from the injury ended up causing an undetected blot in his heart and lungs,” reports Chris Singleton for


Additional Deaths of American Football Players, 2013 To-Date

Jan. 15:  Toron Murphy Jr., 17, Michigan, an offensive lineman for Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School, collapsed after arriving at school in the morning and was pronounced dead at hospital, of cardiac arrest, dilated cardiomyopathy.

Jan. 21:  Serxho Guraleci, 22, Michigan, senior defensive lineman for Wayne State University, collapsed during a weight-lifting session with teammates, dying of a heart attack “caused by a blood clot or hardening of the arteries typically from high cholesterol that a doctor says more than likely was genetic,” reports The Macomb Daily News. Guraleci had recently completed four seasons of football for Wayne State.

Feb. 2:  Parker Allred, 16, Utah, football player and water polo player for Timpview High School, died of complications from staph infection and influenza.

Feb. 14:  Xavier Walton, 20, Indiana, defensive lineman for Anderson University, collapsed while playing intramural basketball, suffering loss of heartbeat, and was pronounced dead at hospital. No autopsy results were available online at time of this posting.

Feb. 27:  Falobi Akanbi, 17, Texas, an offensive lineman recruit for Montana State University, collapsed while playing pickup basketball and later died at hospital. Akanbi was a senior at Dawson High School in training for college football.

March 23:  Michael Raybourn, 16, Missouri, a lineman for Excelsior Springs High School, died during sleep at his home.

June 26:  Chad Stamper, 15, Minnesota, a football player and wrestler in training for Mora High School, died “of heart failure attributed to a pre-existing heart defect,” reports The Kanabec County Times.

Aug. 10:  Sam Woodruff, 15, Utah, an offensive lineman for Grand County High School, died at home in the afternoon, during summer two-a-day practices. The team had practiced the previous night and that morning, and Woodruff was readying to attend evening practice when family members found him in a bathtub of running water, unresponsive. Woodruff had expressed concern for his weight and health to teammates, and family members suspected a heart problem affected him. No autopsy results were available online at time of this posting.

Sept. 15:  Cameron Espinosa, 13, Texas, a lineman for Haas Middle School, suffered allergic reaction to ant bites during a game on Sept. 11, with the insects occupying mounds across the field of the Corpus Christi Independent School District. Espinosa died after four days hospitalized. Such casualties as the Espinoza tragedy are sometimes qualified as football-related, like the death of 11-year-old Jesse Watlington last year in Florida, caused by a lightning strike before team practice at Southwest Florida Christian Academy.

Sept. 27:  Cameron Smith, 13, Kentucky, a lineman for Campbellsville Middle School, died suddenly at his home. “The Kentucky Middle School Football Association said Cameron Smith just stopped breathing,” reports WHAS-TV.

Oct. 22:  Elijah Allen, 11, California, collapsed while playing football during recess at Vista Heights Middle School and later died at hospital. Some students say Allen was tackled as he went down, but teachers and school administrators say only a game of touch football was in progress. A pre-existing medical condition might have contributed to the death.

Oct. 23:  Chase Watson, 15, Ohio, a receiver for Marlington High School, collapsed while jogging with a friend after football practice that afternoon. Watson was pronounced dead at hospital. Final autopsy results were not available in Google at time of this posting.

Nov. 5:  Kylin Polhill, 14, New Jersey, a lineman for Marist High School, collapsed while playing pickup basketball on Nov. 4, having “stopped breathing,” and died the next day. Autopsy results were unavailable in Google at time of this posting.