Luke Schemm, a 17-year-old football star at Wallace County High School in Kansas, has died. The grieving teen’s family has confirmed the news via Facebook earlier this week that he has been taken off life support after being declared brain-dead, People magazine reported.
“This afternoon Lisa Coston Schemm, Clay Schemm, and I had to do the hardest thing any parent or brother will have to do, we told Luke Schemm that we loved him and had the doctor shut off the life support,” the statement read. “He was surrounded by family an friends. Our hearts are shattered.”
Lukes’ father also posted the following message to his Facebook page.
“A beautiful gift from God was taken away from Lisa an I last night, Luke’s father,” David Schemm wrote. “Luke Schemm suffered trauma to the brain, causing it to swell an shut off blood flow to the brain. Thank you to everyone for your prayers an reaching out to is. Please continue to reach out to us, it is going to be a very difficult time for us, an we will only be able to make it thru with the help of God, family, friends, an community.”
It is not clear what made Schemm — who was not only a football star, but also excelled in basketball, as well as track and field — collapse after being tackled as he reached the endzone for a two-point conversion following a long touchdown run in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s game. David Schemm told KWCH that after the play, his son went to the sideline where he collapsed. He was taken to hospital immediately, but eventually succumbed to his injuries.
New York Daily News reported that Luke was taken to a local hospital and then flown by helicopter to a medical center 220 miles west of Sharon Springs. Both teams and their fans held hands on the field as they prayed for the teen.
“Lucas is in intensive care, but has no brain function,” his father explained shortly after the game. Gary Musselman, the Kansas State High School Activities Association executive director, told news outlets that game officials said they didn’t notice any signs that would indicate that Luke sustained any head or neck contact during the game.
The Wichita Eagle, citing data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, reports that Luke’s death is the 11th reported death in high school football in the U.S., and it is the third in Kansas in 17 years.
A report from Mother Jones revealed that between 2005 and 2014, 92 high school football players died indirectly from the sport, with causes ranging from heart-related issues to heat stroke and water intoxication. The site also noted that although the number of football-related deaths are far lower today than they were at their high point in 1968, when 26 high school players died, the fatality rate among high school players has remained steady most years since the late ’90s, when 0.40 per 100,000 high school football players died from on-field injuries.
The latest estimates say that there are roughly 1.1 million high school football players and just 100,000 combined in the NFL, college, junior college, Arena League and semipro. USA Today estimates that approximately 3 million play youth football. The catastrophic injury center calculated a death rate of 0.19 per 100,000 participants in 2013 for the 4.2 million who play football at all levels.
[Image via David Schemm/Facebook]