The Pike County coroner has finally revealed the cause of death of Georgia high school football player Dylan Thomas. Thomas died last month after sustaining severe head injuries during a game.
The coroner said in a statement released on Oct. 9 that Thomas succumbed to cardiac arrest that stemmed from a head injury. The findings essentially ruled out the teen’s death as an accident.
The report also said that Thomas was in great physical shape and did not have preexisting medical conditions.
No autopsy was conducted since the teenager’s injuries were documented at the hospital. Coroner Terrell Moody also said that the young athlete’s parents were fine with the decision not to conduct an autopsy.
“Medical staff at Grady described to Dylan’s parents the nature of the injury as an anomaly, requiring the perfect amount of pressure on the perfect spot at the perfect angle. It is my opinion no additional preventative measures nor subsequent treatments could have prevented Dylan’s death,” Moody reported, as cited by the the WSBTV.
Thomas fell in the third quarter during a Sept. 28 football game. The 16-year-old linebacker needed assistance standing but was alert and responsive to questions when he informed trainers he lost feelings in his left leg.
Thomas’ condition, however, deteriorated about seven minutes after he was brought off the field. He died two days later on Sept. 30 despite hours of surgery, medical tests and other life-saving measures.
Thomas died amid increasing concern that football poses risks of brain damage and other potentially deadly injuries.
In a 2017 research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Jesse Mez, from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues studied the brains of 202 football players and found that 177 of them had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Only one of the 111 NFL players in the study did not have the degenerative brain disease.
“Nearly all of the former NFL players in this study had CTE pathology, and this pathology was frequently severe. These findings suggest that CTE may be related to prior participation in football and that a high level of play may be related to substantial disease burden,” the researchers wrote.
Citing figures from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, CNN also reported that of the 4 million young people who played organized football in 2017, 13 died from the sports. Four of these fatalities had direct causes from on-field injuries or trauma. Nine were caused by indirect causes such as cardiac arrest or heat strokes.