The star quarterback on a New Jersey high school football team died after suffering an injury on the field.
Evan Murray, 17, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, played for Warren Hills Regional High School. During a game Friday night at home against Summit he was hit by an opposing player late in the second quarter, the Daily News reported.
He was taken from the field after a Summit interception and subsequent return, Tapinto.netreported Saturday. He was carted off the field in an ambulance, the website said.
The player felt “woozy” after the play but tried reassuring his teammates he would be fine as he was lifted on a gurney and rushed to the hospital, the News reported, citing witnesses.
“He tried giving a thumbs-up to the rest of the team, and all of us cheered,” Kailtin Bell, 16, a Warren Hills junior varsity cheerleader, told the paper.
“Our coach was telling us he was going to be all right,” she said through tears. “We didn’t expect anything would happen.”
At the end of the game, teammates emerged from the locker room and said Murray may have suffered a heart attack, Bell told the News.
Summit won the game 14-12, according to reports.
Warren Hills junior Taylor Coughlin, 16, told LehighValleyLive.com Murray walked off the field after the hit which occurred behind the line of scrimmage.
She said that right around halftime, he fell to the ground on the sideline, hushing the stunned crowd.
“He was laying on the ground and everyone was looking at him,” she told the paper. “He did get back up. He stood up with help and sat on a gurney.”
Coughlin told the website Murray was a member of the National Honor Society. “He was an amazing student and an amazing athlete,” she said. “He stood out in his athletics, his academics—everything.”
Warren Hills coach Larry Dubiel said officials were still trying to determine what happened.
“We lost a fine kid,” he told lehighvalleylive.
A statement from interim Superintendent Gary Bowen on Saturday called the school community “deeply saddened.”
“Last night we experienced a tragedy in the loss of student athlete Evan Murray following an injury during the Summit-Warren Hills football game,” Bowen said. “Our school district, with the cooperation of many, is providing grief and crisis counseling beginning immediately today, Saturday, for as long as the need exists.”
Coaches, students and community members gathered at the school’s football field on Saturday for a memorial.
Bowen declined to take questions from reporters, saying a cause of death has not yet been determined. Authorities said an autopsy was planned for Saturday afternoon.
Members of the school community said they were shocked by Murray’s death.
“I can’t comprehend what happened,” said one parent.
Murray was a three-sport athlete at Warren Hills. He also played basketball and baseball. He had been the Blue Streaks starting quarterback since his sophomore year.
“Man. Myth. Legend. I hope one day I can be half the man Evan Murray was and will forever be,” a friend Sevian Frangipane wrote on Twitter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.