“My son almost died,” said Regina Hammonds. “They told me he was about to die.”
Her son, 16-year-old Eddie Hammonds, was at football practice when it happened on September 1. After a tackle he fell to the ground. His mom says three vertebrae in his neck were injured. It isn’t known when or if he will walk again.
“He is very down. It is so hard to see him this way.”
Regina says the school did not provide details of how it happened or help. She wondered how other kids could be protected. She spoke to Seven Action News asking us to get her answers.
So how can you protect your child if they play football?
We spoke to Dr. Peter Biglin, a sports medicine and rehab specialist with Performance Orthopedics and Beaumont.
“I think the biggest thing is using proper equipment, proper technique with tackling and the things the coaches are teaching. Avoiding spearing, which is a technique where you use your head with your head down. We teach kids to keep their heads up when they tackle to prevent this kind of injury, a catastrophic spinal cord injury in the neck. There is an inherent risk in football. It is a violent sport.”
7 Action News spoke to school leaders about how this happened. They say Eddie was using new or recently inspected equipment, and the tackle wasn’t improper.
"It was a regular scrimmage. Eleven on eleven, running plays. He took the hand off. It wasn’t an out of the way tackle and he went down,” said Rod Jones, the Dean of Culture and Climate at the Central Collegiate Academy, and a retired NFL player.
“I love the game, so it was very unfortunate. I have never been a part of a situation to see a young man with so much potential go down with such a serious injury.,” said Jones.
The football team now has dedicated the season to Eddie, and is making stickers with his number on it to wear. The school has planned a couple fundraisers to help his family provide for him in the coming days.
“We are going to support him all the way,” said Principal David Oclander.
Eddie’s mom says she knows her son faces a tough road. He just began rehab. She voiced concerns about medical bills to 7 Action News. We reached out to the Michigan High School Athletic Association to find out if there was any insurance coverage for athletes who suffer catastrophic injuries.
It turns out there is. It is so rarely used, a claim hasn’t been made in five years. It provides $500,000 in medical coverage in the case of catastrophic injuries. It is likely the medical bills will quickly reach that.
Eddie’s mom has set up a page to raise money for his care at gofundme.com/eddiehammonds.
“I am scared,” said Regina Hammonds. "I try to imagine if I were in his shoes how would it feel. i can’t even imagine. It is hard to see him like that."