Chapel Hill News

Orange County middle-school football player dies

Frederick Seymour died Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, four days after collapsing at a Gravelly Hill Middle School football practice in Efland, according to a GoFundMe page for his family’s expenses.
Frederick Seymour died Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, four days after collapsing at a Gravelly Hill Middle School football practice in Efland, according to a GoFundMe page for his family’s expenses. 6uueSvGyrL8ZufhsXEdjdq1GeY5Jq6Uk

An Orange County middle-school student died Friday, four days after collapsing at football practice.

The eighth-grade student, Frederick Seymour, 13, was hospitalized shortly after practice Monday, according to the family’s GoFundMe page. He suffered a severe asthma attack, according to a 911 call.

“This morning Frederick Seymour passed away,” a Friday morning update on the page stated. “Thank you for all your prayers and donations, please continue to pray and donate, the family will still need financial help with medical bills, house bills and funeral cost. Thank you again.”

Gravelly Hill canceled all extracurricular activities Friday, including the Grizzlies’ preseason football camp.

“He was well-liked by students and staff,” Principal Dr. Chris Gammon said in a statement. “My heart goes out to his family, and as a school and community we are saddened by his passing.”

911 call

Orange County Emergency Services received a 911 call at 8:07 p.m. Monday from Gravelly Hill Middle School, with the unidentified caller being concerned about the player’s collapse.

“He’s turning purple ... he can’t breathe at all,” the caller says. “You’ve got to come.”

In the background, another person says “C’mon Fred, c’mon, c’mon,” as the player can be heard gasping “I can’t breathe.”

At 8:11, the caller says a nurse is present but then almost instantly adds, “Oh my God, he’s unconscious. Oh, my God.”

Asked to measure the player’s breathing, the caller indicates the breaths are 13 seconds apart, but then the gap closes to about 5-7 seconds and the caller adds, “It’s coming along.”

An EMS crew arrives and the call ends at about 8:15 p.m., about eight minutes after it began.

‘Normal practice’

Monday’s high temperature in Efland was 85 degrees, with a low of 66 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

In an email, Orange County Schools spokesman Seth Stephens said the team was not practicing in full uniforms and that the school system does not require a trainer or medical professional to be at middle school athletic practices.

He also provided a copy of N.C. High School Athletic Association guidelines that note “The vast majority of serious heat illness occurs during the first week of practice/training.”

Temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees call for “normal practice for athletes, ” according to the NCHSAA guidelines, which recommend coaches “closely monitor new or unconditioned athletes and all athletes during extreme exertion,” with water breaks every five minutes and rest breaks every 25 minutes.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, the Seymour family’s GoFundMe page had raised $2,700 toward a $10,000 goal.

In another widely publicized case of a local player’s death, Chapel Hill High School football lineman Atlas Fraley died Aug. 12, 2008, after complaining of dehydration and pain following a team practice.

An autopsy report suggested Fraley’s dehydration and cramping may have led to a fatal heart attack. But it could not provide a definitive explanation for his death.

Staff writer Mark Schultz contributed to this story.

Warnock: 919-829-8961

Orange County Schools statement

Orange County Schools expresses its deepest sympathy to the friends and family of Frederick Seymour, a student from Gravelly Hill Middle School. Mr. Seymour was 13 years old when he passed away on the morning of August 26, 2016. At the time of his passing, he was a rising eighth grader and a member of the football team.

On Monday, during the first football practice of the season, Mr. Seymour exhibited difficulties breathing. His was treated by onsite staff who called for emergency medical services. Mr. Seymour was then transported by the responding emergency personnel to UNC Hospitals. During the trip to the hospital, Mr. Seymour experienced further medical complications. On Friday, Mr. Seymour passed away at the hospital.

“He was well-liked by students and staff,” offered Gravelly Hill Middle School Principal Dr. Chris Gammon. “My heart goes out to his family, and as a school and community we are saddened by his passing.”

The school year for Gravelly Hill begins Monday, August 29th.

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