The high school football season is still a month away in nearly all parts of the country, but we’ve already experienced our first tragic death due to early summer practices.
As reported by the Fayetteville Observer and a handful of other North Carolina outlets, 16-year-old Cumberland County (N.C.) Seventy-First High football player Evan Raines collapsed after a Saturday morning practice and was transported to nearby Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for immediate treatment. Hours later, the sophomore defensive end was pronounced dead.
"We don't know medically what happened," Cumberland County (N.C.) Schools Superintendent Frank Till told the Observer. "The first responders and EMS got there, and he passed away at the hospital."
While doctors have yet to determine precisely what led to Raines’ sudden death, they have determined that he went into cardiac arrest at the hospital, leading to his death. The teen had passed a required preseason physical days earlier, but had become sick at the end of Saturday’s practice before passing out on the field.
According to Raleigh-Durham ABC affiliate WTVD, Raines told one teammate that he was feeling lightheaded before finishing a final sprint with his teammates at the end of practice.
Raines was treated immediately after collapsing by the school's certified first responder, David Simmons, but the teenager was apparently never revived after his initial collapse.
Now, Raines' teammates are struggling to cope with the loss of a close friend out of the blue.
"He was just like my big brother," teammate Amarii Drummond told WTVD. "He kept me on my toes playing football. It ain't going to be the same without him."