Suicide victim's brain donated to trauma research

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 2, 2010; D11

The parents of Austin Trenum, the Brentsville football player who suffered a concussion in a game Sept. 24 and died Monday in what police ruled a suicide by hanging, will donate their son's brain to head trauma research.

A press release issued by the family Friday afternoon said Trenum's brain will be given to Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative disease related to multiple head injuries.

"We do not have any proof that his concussion caused this," Trenum's father, Gilbert A. "Gil" Trenum Jr., a Prince William County School Board member, said in the release. "However, we do know Austin suffered a concussion last year and one two days before his death. Football is a contact sport and he has taken numerous hits to his head over the past few years.

"Austin's actions on Sunday were completely out of character. The only logical conclusion is that something in his brain was not working correctly."

After Trenum, 17, suffered the head injury in a home game against Handley Sept. 24, the senior fullback-middle linebacker, who also played lacrosse, went to Prince William Hospital, where a concussion was diagnosed. He attended a team film session Saturday morning.

Family members found him Sunday afternoon and called Prince William County police at 3:57 p.m. Trenum died at about 2 a.m. Monday at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

"Everything was going right for Austin," Michelle Trenum, his mother, said in the release. "We are not aware of any factors in his life to cause such an impulsive act, and none of his many friends or teammates have indicated to us that Austin expressed anything to them either. They are just as stunned as we are."

Brentsville players planned to honor Trenum at their home game Friday night by wearing No. 43 decals on their helmets and by using 10 players instead of 11 for their first offensive snap. Trenum's funeral is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Manassas Assembly of God.

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