An autopsy has detemined that a 16-year-old New York State high school football player died from a massive subdural hematoma, blood collected on his brain, last weekend, and that his death was an accident.
But that determination, that a cerebral hemorrhage killed him, doesn’t really explain why Ridge Barden died.
The demise of Barden, who played for a high school not far from Syracuse in Phoenix, N.Y., is tragic on many levels, as outlined by a story in the sports section of The New York Times on Monday. The article was headline “Sudden Death of Player Raises Difficult Questions.”
The Friday night game that became Barden’s undoing was his team’s final game this season, and it was Barden’s first varsity start, according to The Times.
“How could a ceremonious moment turn terrible?” the paper asked. How indeed.
In the play that took Barden down, all the other players got up from a pile-up except Barden, who was face down on the field. Barden’s coach, a physician and two EMTs ran onto the gridiron, and found that Barden was conscious but dazed.
But the youth’s condition went south fast. He attempted to stand up, but collapsed. He was gone a couple of hours later.
The perplexing thing about Barden’s case is that he was not directly hit during the play right before he became ill according to The Times.
“On the play that left Barden on the ground, he did not have contact with another player,” The Times quoted coach Jeff Charles as saying, adding that the youth had “missed a cut block.”
According to The Times, Charles said, “It was on a previous play that Barden had some helmet-to-helmet contact when he was blocked by a offensive lineman. He got up gingerly…”
While Barden may have appeared OK after that play, in retrospect it lookes like he wasn’t.
According to The Post-Standard of Syracuse, Cortland County Coroner Kevin Sharp said that an autopsy determined that Barden’s hematioma, and the discovery of some bruising to his brain, was consistent with helmet-to-helmet contact.
Barden didn’t have any prior injury that was a factor in his death, nor did he sustain a skull fracture from the helmet-to-helmet contact, The Post-Standard reported.
The paper also wrote that Sharp said, “There also was no indication the injury resulted from any series of impacts during the game… It appeared the injury resulted from the single impact on that one play in the game.”
Sharp said officials are still investigating to determine Barden’s fatal injury came about, and will likely include looking at video of the game.
Barden’s coach, Charles, told The Times that the youth’s death was “the most bizarre thing” he’d ever seen in his careet.
Let’s hope it is the last time he sees anything like it.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.