Rolesville HS football player hit on back of head days before death

Franklinton football program invests in helmet technology to protect players (Image 2)

A Rolesville High School student who died in September had suffered head trauma two days before he collapsed during warm-ups before a football game.

Isaiah Langston, 17, collapsed Sept. 26 during pregame warm-ups on a Friday night. He died three days later.

According to the state medical examiner’s report released on Wednesday, Langston died from “complications of vertebral artery dissection” sustained from “blunt force injury” to his head and neck.

The report says Langston was hit in the back of his head on Sept. 24 “while playing football,” which caused him headaches. After sitting out practice the next day, he collapsed Sept. 26 while running up and down the field before the game.

His coach said Langston, a high school junior, was initially awake and speaking to the team’s trainers for about 3 to 5 minutes before he slumped onto his back.

A pediatric neurologist said at the time that Langston most likely suffered a “large posterior circulation stroke” and that the “prognosis for survival is very poor.” Langston died at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh on Sept. 29 at 7:15 a.m., the medical examiner’s report says.

The report said Langston had “no known drug use,” no medications and “mild asthma and allergies.”

While the report did not indicate whether Langston was wearing a football helmet at the time he was hit in the back of his head, WNCN found that Rolesville High School equips its players with Schutt Air XP helmets, which are rated 3 stars, according to Virginia Tech’s 5-star helmet ratings. Three stars is considered a “good” helmet rating.

“In order to get a 5-star [rating], you have to perform well at the low, medium and high levels,” Virginia Tech’s Dr. Stefan Duma said. “We showed that if you switch from a 1-star to a 4-star, you lessen your chances of a concussion by 50 percent.”

The Wake County Public School System uses the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment for rating helmets. NOCSAE said the 5-star system used by Virginia Tech is a theoretical method designed to compare one helmet against another.

But Duma said, “The primary difference is NOCSAE has a pass/fail standard.” So some helmets are below the standard and some are far below.

Deran Coe, senior administrator for athletics for WCPSS, has said all the helmets being used are safe according NOCSAE.


Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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