One week after a Georgia teen football player suddenly collapsed on the sidelines of a high school game, the Pike County Coroner’s Office determined that the 16-year-old’s sudden death was caused by cardiac arrest from his head trauma.
Dylan Thomas was “a healthy 16-year-old boy in great physical shape” that was struck down as everything tragically aligned the day he walked out into the field, the Pike County Coroner Terrell A. Moody revealed in his report released on Tuesday.
“[Nothing] would indicate Dylan would be more or less susceptible to this injury than any other ballplayer,” Moody wrote.
The player’s treating doctors called the injured “an anomaly,” as it required “the perfect amount of pressure on the perfect spot at the perfect angle.”
Moody, who ruled the death as an accident, added: “It is my opinion no additional preventative measures nor subsequent treatment could have prevented Dylan’s death.”
An autopsy was not performed on the athlete since all of his injuries were noted at the hospital.
Thomas, a junior linebacker and running back for Pike County High School in Zebulon, was playing in a game on Sept. 28 when he collapsed on the sidelines after complaining that he lost feeling in his left leg.
The teen was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he underwent multiple surgeries and tests to reduce swelling in his brain, before dying from his injuries on Sunday night.
Following Thomas’ passing, footage of his final game was released by his high school and obtained by CNN. It does not reveal a specific moment where the athlete experienced any traumatic hits or injuries to the head.
“There’s nothing that you can pinpoint,” head coach Brad Webber told CNN. “That makes it almost harder as well that we just didn’t know. If you know, you can prevent things. But just the way that happened, it’s just devastating. It’s just sad.”
Georgia High School Association also reviewed the film and confirmed that the school took all the necessary steps to ensure safety for the athletes.
“There is no indication of any negligent action by anyone associated with Pike County in this incident,” the statement reads. “The coaches had taken every precaution to prepare for potential injuries and went beyond the required standards when working within the concussion protocol.”
Hundreds of community members attended Thomas’ funeral on Thursday, many of whom wore their respective football jerseys, as requested by his family in his obituary. In it, they also remembered Thomas as someone who “lived life to the fullest,” was “a true friend” and “loving son and brother.”
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On Friday, the Pike County Pirates suited up for a game — just one week after the fatal incident. They ended up beating Rutland 48-2, which player Jordan Holley attributed to the devastating loss of his teammate.
“The loss of Dylan will now force us to strengthen our hearts,” Holley told CNN. “We may not be the fastest, strongest or best team in our region and we may not win another game this season, but moving forward there’s not a single high school team in the United States that has more heart than us right now.”
A Facebook fundraiser in Thomas’ name was set up by his uncle days after the incident, to help cover medical expenses and “lost income.” In a little over a week, it has raised over $51,000.
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