Sports injury puts high school football player in a coma

Not knowing if and when your son is going to return to a normal life must be the one of the toughest things a parent can withstand. Parents of Drew Williams, the collapsed Lane Tech High School football player faced such a grave accident last week. People at the scene reported it looked like Williams suffered from a seizure.

Football player in coma after collapsing at game.

"No one could have told me someone could end up in this condition from a high school football game," said Drew's older sister Andrea Williams from the hospital, where relatives from across the country gathered."

“No one could have told me someone could end up in this condition from a high school football game,” said Drew’s older sister Andrea Williams from the hospital, where relatives from across the country gathered.”

The school posted a notice on the Principal’s Page Update section of its website: “On Friday, October 4, Drew Williams, senior football and baseball player, suffered head trauma during the football game. News accounts and other reports indicate he underwent surgery and remains hospitalized in critical condition.[i]” In addition to its statement, the school’s principal shared a link to another site where friends and families could make a donation to benefit the family of the injured student player[ii]. As of the writing of this article, the site raised over $43,000 to help the Williams family pay medical bills.

Commenting in the Chicago Tribune article published on the Williams story, Fred Mueller, former director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, addressed the decrease in the number of deaths from traumatic brain injuries have decreased over time with new technologies, medical care and safer rules. Having said that, however, Muller added, “that major brain injuries have spied in recent years, reaching a high of 16 in 2011 before dropping to five last year. He said that is a reflection of the difficulty of getting rid of helmet-to-helmet contact.[iii]

Williams’ sister: “”No one could have told me someone could end up in this condition from a high school football game,” said Drew’s older sister Andrea Williams from the hospital, where relatives from across the country gathered.”

Commenters on the Tribune article generally wished Williams and his family well and for a speedy recovery. A few people noted the assumption of risk in contact sports and offered additional sources of head injury on and off the playing field.

When instances such as this injury occur, many schools face parental and community concern and requests for stronger policies to more aggressively respond to urgent treatment incidents. For example, some people have suggested school-sponsored sporting event rules should increase the presence of physicians in addition to existing sports staff, if that is not already the policy.

How safe do you believe contact sports can be in our schools? How can we better educate players and coaches, or are we doing all we can? It is in response to unfortunate events when we, as communities, work together to bring change for the best interests of our youth.

Michael V. Favia’s practice includes personal injury cases and Favia offered this comment on the Williams injury: “This was a very unfortunate event, which will affect this young athlete as well as his family for a long time. As a member of the Chicago Concussion Coalition and local counsel to the Sports Legacy Institute it is one of my missions as an attorney and supporter of safe sports to educate young athletes, their families and coaches, etc. in an effort to help prevent future events like this in the future. While many of these types of accidents are inevitable, many can and should be prevented and that’s where the laws and sometimes lawsuits are needed to prevent unsafe avoidable sports injuries.”

Michael V. Favia & Associates represent clients with sports injuries. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.


[i] Lane Tech High School: Lane Tech Athletics, Oct. 11 Principals Page Update. By Christopher A. Dignam, Ed.D., Principal.

[ii] Donations Website: Drew Williams Recovery Fund.

[iii] Chicago Tribune: Football player in coma after collapsing at game. By Annie Sweeny and John Keilman, Oct. 10, 2013.

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