A 16-year-old has died as the result of a helmet-to-helmet collision during a high school football game over the weekend, according to multiple reports out of New York.
Damon Janes, a junior running back and defensive back for Brocton-Westfield (N.Y.) High, was rushed to Olean General Hospital and later Buffalo's Women & Children’s Hospital soon after a hit in Friday's game against Portville (N.Y.) High, according to The Buffalo News.
Janes originally walked to the sidelines under his own power, the Olean Times Herald reported. After three days of public support from the western New York community as he remained in critical condition, Janes succumbed to the injuries on Monday.
The precise cause of his death has yet to be determined, the reports said.
The NFL has taken significant steps to try and stem the tide of helmet-to-helmet hits in recent years, and is apparently stepping up enforcement efforts even further in 2013.
Nonetheless, helmet-to-helmet hits remain a significant problem for the NFL. During his career with the Steelers, Bengals linebacker James Harrison was fined more than $100,000 for helmet-to-helmet infractions. More recently, Redskins defensive back Brandon Meriweather is due to be fined for the third time in the prior four years for making helmet-to-helmet contact during the team's game against Green Bay on Sunday.
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina, this marks the second such tragedy in less than a month. College Park (Ga.) Creekside High star DeAntre "Tre Tre" Turman died after suffering a broken neck during a scrimmage in August.
"Our heart goes out to the Janes family," Portville coach Gary Swetland told the Times Herald. "It’s just a tragic, tragic circumstance. Our players are saddened, our families are saddened, our school is saddened, our coaches are saddened, our officials are saddened, bus drivers, everybody. There is no one who isn’t desperately saddened by this."
Swetland would not address whether the hit was indeed helmet on helmet. The Janes family released the following statement to WKBW News and other media outlets:
Damon W. Janes, 16, a Junior who attended Brocton Central School, lost his fight and went to be with the Lord following his injury resulting from helmet-to-helmet collision during a Westfield/Brocton varsity football game.
Janes' parents have expressed their gratitude to those who have supported and prayed for Damon and the family, and they continue to request that their privacy be respected. Meanwhile, friends of the junior on Facebook established a memorial fund in Janes' honor that received roughly 2,000 supporters in less than 24 hours after the 16-year-old's death.