Georgia high school football player said, 'I can't feel my body,' then died. But why?

Something terrible happened in the third quarter of Pike County High School's football game. But no one know...

Posted: Oct 2, 2018 11:43 PM
Updated: Oct 2, 2018 11:43 PM

Something terrible happened in the third quarter of Pike County High School's football game. But no one knows exactly what.

At first, the team thought Dylan Thomas had suffered a leg injury.

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Teenagers

But two days later, the 16-year-old star linebacker died of a head injury.

Now, the rural Georgia county about an hour south of Atlanta is overwhelmed with both confusion and grief.

"We're in a constant process of evaluating the entire thing to see if we can pinpoint one area that maybe this occurred," coach Brad Webber said. "There wasn't anything that really stuck out."

He said officials are reviewing video of Friday's game against Peach County High School to try to figure out what happened.

Ironically, both Dylan and his father were concerned about injuries on the field -- and took extra precautions against them.

'I can't feel my body'

Dylan left the game injured in the third quarter. As he spoke with athletic trainers and the team doctor, Dylan became incoherent and then passed out, Webber said.

First responder Steve Fry said Dylan fell off the bench on the sideline. After the teen went down, he woke up, said "I can't feel my body," and then passed out again, Fry said.

He was taken to WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital and then airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He was pronounced dead Sunday night from a head injury, Superintendent Michael Duncan said.

After Dylan was taken to the hospital, players and coaches from both teams united and knelt to pray for his recovery, Peach County High School posted on Facebook.

The death has sparked an outpouring of support in the county and nearby communities. On Sunday, teammates and community members gathered at Pike Stadium to hold a vigil for Dylan, carrying his No. 32 jersey and bearing the hashtag #DylanStrong.

"He was an incredible young man with work ethic that you can't believe," Webber said. "He was the heart and soul of our defense. Just great student, great family, and the sky was gonna be the limit for him."

'He was always scared to seriously hurt somebody'

Dylan was the "golden child" of his family -- the one who brought everyone together, his uncle Nick Burgess posted on Facebook.

He was the one "that had the biggest heart. The one that told me personally he was always scared to seriously hurt somebody on the field and never thought it would happen to him," Burgess wrote.

Dylan's father shared his son's concern about injuries.

"Dylan's dad took his own money and bought an NFL-quality helmet for Dylan, because he was somewhat concerned about head injuries," Fry said.

The teen's coach said Dylan was wearing a new Riddell SpeedFlex helmet.

Football deaths happen every year

Game-related deaths of football players are rare, but they happen every fall. Last year, of the 4 million young people who played organized football, 13 died from the sport, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.

Four of the deaths had "direct" causes from on-field trauma or injuries, and nine deaths were due to "indirect" causes such as heatstroke or cardiac arrest. The 2017 death toll was consistent with football-related fatalities dating back to 2000.

Professional and college football administrators have been increasingly focused on limiting head injuries amid recent concerns that the country's most popular sport is damaging young people's brains.

Efforts to limit concussions and other brain injuries have found mixed results, given the inherent violence of a sport based on large, fast men and boys repeatedly crashing into each other.

But Dylan's death isn't stopping his teammates from playing. Fellow Pike County player Jake Patterson told CNN affiliate WSB that he would honor his fallen teammate on the field.

"I want to get out there and play for him because that's what he'd want for us," Jake said. "He'd want us to play for him instead of just quitting."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
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