Tragedy struck the community of Washington, N.J., this past weekend, as Warren Hills Regional High School quarterback Evan Murray died after suffering a lacerated spleen during a game Friday evening.
The Morris County medical examiner’s office released autopsy results Monday, concluding Murray’s spleen was “abnormally enlarged,” which made it more susceptible to injury, according to Greg Tufaro of MyCentralJersey.com. After getting tackled in the backfield during the second quarter of Warren High’s game against Summit High School this past weekend, Murray walked off the field with the help of teammates, per Matthew Stanmyre of NJ Advance Media, and collapsed on the sideline soon thereafter.
Murray was loaded onto a gurney and transported to a hospital, where he died of massive internal bleeding. It’s unclear precisely when he suffered the spleen laceration, as one of his teammates, junior defensive end Bailey Lieberman, told Stanmyre that Murray wasn’t feeling 100 percent before the hit that knocked him out of the game.
“I’m not sure if it was that last hit on him that actually did the damage, or previous plays,” Lieberman said. “I do know that he wasn’t feeling too good prior to the hit and seemed tired. He did take a pretty hard hit just before the last (hit), where he took a helmet to the stomach.”
On Saturday, interim superintendent Gary R. Bowen issued a brief statement on the district’s website about Murray’s death.
“Our school district, with the cooperation of many, is providing grief and crisis counseling that began Saturday and will continue as long as the need exists,” said Bowen. “We sincerely appreciate the support and caring of our close-knit greater Warren Hills community and the abundant support systems provided by neighboring school districts and school systems from afar.”
According to the autopsy results, Murray had no evidence of head trauma or heart disease, and his death was ruled an accident. He’s the third high school football player to die from football-related injuries this season, per Tufaro.
Warren Hills has yet to decide whether to continue on with its regularly scheduled football season, although it did cancel a junior varsity game Monday. The district also postponed all Spirit Week and Homecoming events following Murray’s death.
One of Murray’s friends, 16-year-old Taylor Coughlin, launched a GoFundMe account to help the family cover all funeral costs and medical costs for a different family member who is currently battling cancer, according to Jim Deegan of LehighValleyLive.com. The account has already received more than $50,000 in donations, shattering its original goal of $15,000.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.