Teenage girl dies on soccer field

A 17-year-old soccer player died Thursday night after colliding with another player during practice, according to Oneonta Fire Chief Arthur Willis.

Just before 8 p.m., the Oneonta Fire Department was called to the soccer field next to the Blount County- Oneonta Agri-Business Center. Upon arrival, a bystander was in the process of administering CPR before members of the fire department took over treatment of the patient.

“She was playing soccer and, past that, there was nothing out of the ordinary,” Willis said. “Two players were going for the ball, they collided, and she went down.”

Willis said the patient had no noticeable injuries.

Blount County Coroner John Mark Vaughn says the cause of death was ruled commotio cordis.

“This occurs when there is an impact to the heart or directly over the heart during the third quarter of the heartbeat, or the last moments of the heartbeat,” he said. “Some conditions open the window for this to have an affect including exhaustion, accelerated heart rate, and elevated blood pressure.”

Vaughn says the player had no pre-existing condition, and no autopsy was performed.

“The autopsy would have shown nothing because the issue was electrical, not physical, and the family would have had to wait an extended period of time for the autopsy to occur,” Vaughn said. “The family was offered an autopsy, but due to cultural and religion reasons, they declined.”

According to the website, www.emedicine.medscape.com, “Relatively recent data from the registry of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation show that commotio cordis is one of the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes, exceeded only by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and congenital coronary artery abnormalities.”

Blount EMS transported the patient to St. Vincent’s Blount where she was pronounced dead.

Due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the name of the girl could not be released. Willis says HIPAA is in place to protect a patient’s privacy.

The 17-year-old was a junior at Oneonta High School, and Oneonta Supt. Scott Coefield said the family had requested the school not release any information.

“We have followed our normal procedure when dealing with a student death,” Coefield said. “This includes providing students with time to talk and counsel each other as well as having counselors available.”

Coefield confirmed the 17-year-old was not playing for a school team nor was she on school grounds when the incident occurred.

The Oneonta Police Department was also called to the scene and managed crowd control, according to Chief James Chapman.