Sean McNamee, a 6 foot 2, 185 pound junior linebacker at Wharton High School, leaded the 5-1 Wildcats with three sacks and ranked second with 34 tackles. Against East Bay, he returned a fumble 83 yards for an impressive touchdown in a 21-18 victory. Today, Sean lies in a coma, and serves as yet another reminder of the dangers of football.
Sean went for a pass before football practice last week, and came down with a fractured skull, swollen brain, and injuries so severe that Sean had to be placed in a medically induced coma.
Sean and teammates were throwing the ball around before practice on Wednesday. Drill hadn’t started yet, so Sean hadn’t been wearing a helmet when he jumped over a defender for a pass near the end zone. When landing, his head smacked the corner of a paint machine used to line the practice field, according to a teammate.
Sean was grabbing the left side of his head, just above his ear, in obvious pain. Immediately after the crash, two teammates took Sean inside to see the school’s athletic trainer.
Hillsborough County Public Schools spokesman Steve Hegarty said in a statement that Sean “indicated that he thought he was fine” to the school trainer and veteran coach David Mitchell. “based on what they observed and Sean’s responses to their questions, the coach and trainer made several decisions with Sean’s best interests in mind,” Hegarty said. Keep in mind, however, that Hillsborough County Public Schools is hardly a neutral party.
The trainer called Sean’s mother, Jody McNamee, to tell her her son suffered a serious head injury and she should pick him up. Sean’s family reported that Sean was so dazed, he forgot the combination to his locker. In spite of this serious situation, Sean slipped out of the training room unsupervised, got in his car, and drove 4 miles home. Sean got home to his 10 year old sister and was unable to dial his mom’s number. By the time his father arrived, Sean couldn’t even hold an ice pack to his head and was mumbling gibberish. His dad begged him to stay awake, but Sean lost consciousness as he was being driven to the hospital.
CT scans revealed a fractured skull and brain swelling. Blood was collecting inside Sean’s head. Doctors ultimately induced a coma after removing bloody tissue from Sean’s head. A part of Sean’s skull is incubated in his abdomen so they can reattach it to his brain when swelling subsides.
Sean has received several visitors since being admitted to the hospital. Teammates and classmates support him on Twitter with the hashtag #PrayForSean and hung a sign with that message behind Wharton’s bench at Friday’s game against Steinbrenner. All cheerleaders wore white ribbons with Sean’s number, 2, on their uniforms.
Unused equipment like helmets and footballs litter the sidelines at almost every practice in the country. Why was a paint machine left near the practice field that day? Why were students allowed to play without helmets? Why was Sean able to leave the school’s supervision after suffering a very serious head injury? There are many questions unanswered in this tragic story.
Sean’s parents have hired an attorney. The school district is investigating to determine exactly what happened. Todd McNamee said “I gave my son to Wharton High School that morning. I had every right to expect him to come home in the same shape as I sent him in – maybe a little bit smarter”. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sean and his family at this time of need.
If you or a loved one have suffered injury or death due to the negligence of others, contact one of the experienced and aggressive Personal Injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today. (727)451-6900.