A high school football player died Monday night in Arizona only two days after sustaining a traumatic brain injury during a playoff game.
Charles Youvella, a senior at Hopi High School, was tackled after catching a pass midway through the fourth quarter of his team’s 60-6 playoff loss against Arizona Lutheran Academy. The back of his head hit the ground hard, according to AZcentral.com, but he popped right back up and played two more snaps before collapsing on the field.
He remained conscious as paramedics took him away, the site reported, but had slipped into critical condition by the time he arrived at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
On Monday night, two days after initially suffering the head injury, Youvella passed away.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Charles Youvella,” the Arizona Interscholastic Association said in a statement released Monday evening. “We send our condolences to the Youvella family and friends and encourage everyone to keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
The AIA plans on setting up a bank account to help assist the Youvella family with the costs related to Charles’ passing. His father, Wallace, is a member of the AIA’s executive board, according to AIA365.com.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald tweeted out a picture of Charles on Monday night, asking his 1.6 million Twitter followers to say a prayer for the Hopi High community:
Please say a prayer for Hopi High players, friends & family of Charles Youvella who passed away tonight. #RIP pic.twitter.com/iN2PNblqWy
-- Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) November 12, 2013
Earlier this fall, a school district in upstate New York cancelled the rest of its football season due to the death of running back Damon Janes, who passed away after losing consciousness from a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Back in June, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association released “best-practice” policies to help secondary school athletic programs prevent sudden death in student-athletes. With proper education, emergency protocols, and health and safety policy considerations, NATA believes most student-athlete deaths could be prevented.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.