ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A 17-year-old football player died Wednesday afternoon after collapsing during a high school football game in western Kansas.
Luke Schemm was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood where he was declared brain dead. He was kept alive so family, friends and his football team could pay their respects. He died after his family made the decision to take him off life support.
Schemm was 11th high school player to die in the United States from a football-related injury since July. That figure has not gone up over past years, but doctors say his type of sudden loss is unusual.
“Giving your all, like Luke always has, you take on risk,” Luke’s father David Schemm said at news conference outside of Swedish Medical Center on Wednesday.
Tuesday night was no different. Schemm went onto the football field, took a handoff and made his way into the end zone to score a 2-point conversion after a touchdown. After the play was over he made his way to the sideline and collapsed.
“We have come to terms that Luke, our beautiful gift from God, is no longer with us,” his father said.
His father said after being tackled, his son suffered some sort of trauma to the brain.
“In this sport it’s hard to know why something like that could still happen,” said Dr. Brooke Pengel, who specializes in sports medicine.
Pengel has done research on head injuries. She says rarely do they come without signs.
“The classic signs that most people are familiar with are the physical signs of, ‘I feel horrible, I have a headache, I feel nauseated, I’m sensitive to the noise, to the light,'” Pengel said.
In a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, in which Pengel is cited, the recommendation to keep athletes safe is education on proper tackling techniques and outlawing head-first hits.
“Everyone get on board in understanding what this injury can look like in different playing fields,” Pengel said.
Current legislation requires coaches to remove athletes from play if they show signs of concussion.
Schemm’s team won Wednesday night’s football game and say they will move forward in the playoffs with him in their hearts.