Georgia coroner confirms 16-year-old Dylan Thomas died from TBI
When 16-year-old Dylan Thomas died last month following a scary set of events beginning with the young athlete collapsing on the field, it was assumed he died from issues related to a traumatic brain injury. However, the cause of death technically remained a mystery until earlier this week.
Now, the Pike County coroner who assessed the young football player’s death has confirmed what was already suspected. Dylan Thomas died from cardiac arrest resulting from “traumatic brain injury due to or as a consequence of a closed head injury.”
According to the statement released by the coroner, no autopsy was conducted on Thomas because his injuries were already documented at the hospital he was taken to for emergency surgery.
The parents agreed with the decision to forego an autopsy, and coroner Terrell Moody explained the family did not wish to make any public statement about their son’s death at the time.
What happened during the game
While no one has been able to identify the tackle or collision that would have triggered a traumatic brain injury in Thomas, it is clear that the athlete began to experience issues in the third quarter of a September 28th between the Pike County Pirates and Peach County High School.
During this quarter, Pirates linebacker Thomas suddenly collapsed, saying that he had lost feeling in his left leg. He was alert and responsive at the time. Approximately seven minutes after Thomas left the field to be examined by an orthopedic surgeon and the Pike County certified trainer, however, Dylan’s state began to quickly deteriorate.
Before long, Thomas had lost consciousness and was transported to a nearby hospital, before being moved to another hospital better equipped to handle the situation in Atlanta.
At the Atlanta hospital, Dylan underwent at least 40 hours of surgery, testing, and emergency life-saving measures. None of this was enough to stop the damage, and Thomas died on September 30th.
Could anything have been done differently?
The natural instinct would be to blame team staff and medical professionals present at the game for missing Dylan’s injury, but that would be dishonest. By all accounts, everyone involved took every step possible to protect Dylan Thomas from further injury.
The Georgia High School Association, the overseeing organization for all Georgia high school sports, released a statement finding that there “is no indication of any negligent action by anyone associated with Pike County in this incident.”
“The coaches had taken every precaution to prepare for potential injuries and went beyond the required standards when working within the concussion protocol,” the organization said.
The association also reviewed the game footage and found no evidence that Dylan had experienced an observable brain injury during the game.
The most notable hit Thomas endured came in the second quarter when the athlete was hit by two players while running with the ball. Thomas was slow to get up but otherwise gave no indication he had experienced a head injury.
As we noted following the announcement of Dylan Thomas’s passing, deaths like Dylan’s are becoming tragically common in high school football.
In a report, Buzzfeed found that at least six high school athletes died last year from TBI related issues. In most cases, experts have been unable to determine when the athlete’s experienced their brain injury. Typically, there is no sign of TBI until the athlete collapses or begins to experience seizures on the sideline.