WASHINGTON, N.J. - A New Jersey high school star quarterback died after suffering an injury on the field, school officials said Saturday. It was the second football-related death this month and happened almost a year after Tom Cutinella of Shoreham-Wading River died after suffering an on-field injury.
Three-sport athlete Evan Murray of Warren Hills Regional High School in Washington, New Jersey, died after he was hurt in a game against Summit on Friday night. Murray had been the starting quarterback for three years at the school, approximatedly 70 miles from Manhattan. He also played baseball and basketball.
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A statement from interim superintendent Gary Bowen said the school community is "deeply saddened" by his death. Bowen declined to take questions from reporters, saying a cause of death has not been determined. Authorities said an autopsy was planned.
People who attended the game said the 17-year-old Murray walked off the field under his own power after taking a hit in the backfield late in the second quarter. A short time later, he apparently collapsed.
Murray felt "woozy" after the tackle but tried reassuring his teammates he would be fine as he was lifted on a gurney and taken to a hospital, witnesses said.
"He tried giving a thumbs-up to the rest of the team, and all of us cheered," said Kaitlin Bell, 16, a junior varsity cheerleader. "Our coach was telling us he was going to be all right. We didn't expect anything would happen."
Coaches, students and community members gathered at the school's football field yesterday for a memorial.
"I can't comprehend what happened," one parent said.
Taylor Coughlin, 16, a junior at the school, told The (Easton) Express-Times that she had first met Murray in the seventh grade. She saidMurray was "an amazing student and an amazing athlete."
"A lot of people were in disbelief and didn't want to believe it," she said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the Jets football team were among dozens of people and groups from around the country who posted condolences via social media Saturday.
On Oct. 1 last year, Cutinella, 16, died at Huntington Hospital after suffering an on-field injury during Shoreham-Wading River's game at John Glenn High School in Elwood. Cutinella was blocking during the third quarter when he collided with an opponent. He fell to the ground, got up and collapsed almost immediately. The official cause of death has not been made public.
Tyrell Cameron, a Louisiana high school player, died from injuries incurred during a football game earlier this month. Cameron, a sophomore, reportedly suffered a neck injury on a punt return during Franklin Parish's game against Sterlington on Sept. 4. Cause of death has not been announced but Louisiana TV station KNOE reported that Cameron had suffered a broken neck.