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Jalen Hurts writes to WFT, NFL asking about ‘follow-up action’ to railing collapse

A railing at FedEx Field collapsed Sunday, sending fans tumbling and narrowly missing Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. (Shaban Athuman/Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP)

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts issued a letter to the Washington Football Team and the NFL on Tuesday inquiring about their “follow-up action” after a railing at FedEx Field collapsed Sunday in the tunnel leading from the field to the locker room, sending fans tumbling and narrowly missing him.

“Many individuals, including fans, media personnel, and myself, were placed in a dangerous situation when portions of the FedEx Field tunnel collapsed,” Hurts wrote. “Although I was able to prevent the barrier from crashing onto me, that was not the same for others who could be suffering from lingering injuries.”

The incident happened shortly after the Eagles’ 20-16 win. Hurts, who was walking off the field after finishing postgame interviews, headed toward the visitors’ locker room, where a crowd of Eagles fans awaited him alongside the tunnel railing. As he neared the tunnel entrance, the railing collapsed, and at least seven fans fell at his feet. Hurts managed to sidestep the railing and the fans but stayed behind to help them up and take photos.

His letter Tuesday voiced concern about his safety as well as that of the fans after what he described as a “near-tragic incident.”

“While I displayed a calm composure, I understand the severity of what happened and am extremely concerned for the well-being of the fans and media,” Hurts wrote. “As a result, I would like to know what safeguards the NFL and the Washington Football Team are implementing to prevent this from ever occurring in the future.”

A Washington spokesperson said team president Jason Wright received the letter and sent an email to Hurts in response.

On Sunday evening, the team issued a statement saying “everyone involved was offered on-site medical evaluation and left the stadium of their own accord.” But Monday, four fans involved in the incident told ESPN they were not offered medical attention at the stadium.

“They didn’t ask if anyone was hurt, and they sure as hell didn’t ask if anybody needed medical attention,” Andrew Collins, a 26-year-old Eagles fan from Brooklawn, N.J., told ESPN. “The only thing the staff said to us was to get the ‘F’ off the field.”

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in an email Monday night: “We are reviewing the matter with the club to understand what happened and to ensure it does not happen again.”

When reached for comment Monday night, a team spokesperson said Washington has been in communication with the league and is doing a full investigation. The spokesperson also said respondents from Prince George’s County EMS were at the scene within five minutes to assist those who requested medical evaluation and that two people were treated.

The spokesperson said the incident happened after fans congregated in an area in which they were not permitted and didn’t follow the instructions of security once there. According to the team, the section where the collapse took place was designed to hold six people in wheelchairs and six companions, not a significant load of fans.

The fans who spoke to ESPN, however, said that there was no signage to indicate a restricted section and that stadium security granted them access.

Mark Tenally, a Fairfax County police officer and freelance photographer for the Associated Press, was injured during the collapse, according to his attorney, Peter Grenier. In videos of the incident, Tenally can be seen crouching at the tunnel entrance with his back along the base of the stands. As he’s photographing Hurts, the railing and fans fall over top of him.

Grenier said he wasn’t sure if Tenally was offered medical treatment at the stadium but he went to Inova HealthPlex in Lorton that night and was referred to Inova Concussion Clinic at Mount Vernon Hospital in Alexandria to be evaluated for a possible concussion.

The tunnel collapse is the latest embarrassing incident to take place during a Washington game this season at the 25-year-old stadium.

During the team’s Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, a pipe carrying rainwater burst and created a waterfall that drenched fans. Weeks later, the steam machine used during player introductions created headlines because it produced an excess of steam that made it difficult for players to find their way to the field. And in November, during Washington’s win over the Seattle Seahawks, the sprinkler system in a luxury suite went off. The team moved the affected fans to another suite for the rest of the game.

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