A high school junior from Shoreham, N.Y., died Wednesday night after colliding with an opponent and collapsing during a football game.
Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old guard/linebacker for Shoreham-Wading River High School’s football team, was the third high school football player to die since last Friday.
Cutinella sustained a head injury during a varsity game against John Glenn High School, Newsday reported.
“It was a big hit,” Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser said after Cutinella was whisked away in an ambulance.
Cutinella collapsed at about 5:45 p.m., and the ambulance left the field at 6:05 p.m, the River Head News Review reported.
Some 60 relatives, friends and coaches waited at the hospital for news of Cutinella’s condition. Teammates and friends wearing Wildcats blue-and-yellow paced the halls anxiously.
Two people fell to the ground weeping after hearing of the death, Newsday reported.
“He was a great kid,” Millheiser told Newsday before leaving the hospital late Wednesday night with some of his football staff.
Friends took to Twitter to express their grief: “RIP Tom you were a great soul, we will all be playing for you tomorrow #54forever,” Twitter user @sorlandoo wrote. “RIP to the kid who never walked around with anything but a smile on his face you will never be forgotten by anyone. Fly High Tom,” another user, @daniellegeraci, tweeted.
School District spokesman Deirdre Gilligan confirmed Cutinella’s death to Newsday, and said Cutinella had been moved to intensive care after having surgery.
The game was halted in the third quarter with Shoreham-Wading River leading 17-12, Newsday reported.
“His health and safety is more important than any high school football game,” Glenn coach Dave Shanahan told Newsday. “And our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the entire Shoreham-Wading River team and community. I asked my team to pray for him.”
Cutinella had played football since ninth grade. He also played lacrosse and was a member of Natural Helpers, a peer help group, Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen said in a statement reported by River Head News Review.
“He had a great sense of humor and was just a great individual overall. He was well-liked among students and staff and he will truly be missed,” Cohen said. Earlier this month, Cutinella announced on Twitter that he was running for class president.
Cutinella is not the only young player who died on the field recently.
Isaiah Langston, a 17-year-old linebacker for Rolesville High School in North Carolina, collapsed during pregame warm-ups last Friday and died Monday morning. His older brother, Aijalon Langston, told ABC the death was related to a blood clot in the brain.
Demario Harris Jr., a 17-year-old cornerback for Charles Henderson High School in Troy, Ala., died Sunday after he collapsed during a Friday game following a tackle. The hit ruptured an aneurysm in his brain, Harris’s coach told AL.com. “The doctors told me it could have happened in his sleep or walking down the hallway,” Brad McCoy reportedly said.
On Facebook, the Dothan Eagle reported, Demario Harris Sr., Harris’s father, explained further.
“My family and me are dealing with a rough situation and we really appreciate everyone’s well wishes and prayers,” his post read. “And contrary to various media reports, my son had a brain hemorrhage, not an aneurysm, that was caused by a hit he took during Friday’s game. He may have had a pre-existing condition, but there is no way to tell now.”