Florida high school lineman forced to have leg amputated after knee injury

Tuesday October 28th, 2014

A Florida high school lineman was forced to have his leg amputated after complications arose from a knee injury he sustained in a game last Friday night.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, 17-year-old Leshawn Williams of Northeast High School in Broward County injured his knee late in the first half of the team's game against Clearwater High.

Williams was assessed by medical personnel on the field for close to half an hour before being transported to a local hospital and then later transferred to a different facility. A blood clot developed in the back of Williams' knee, and after failed attempts to restore circulation in his lower leg, the decision was made to amputate just above the knee on Sunday night.

WIlliams' mother, Bonita Copeland, expressed dissatisfaction at how long it took for paramedics to arrive and transport Williams to the hospital, though a local orthopedic surgeon told the newspaper that he doesn't believe that was a factor in the youth's eventual outcome.

According to the Times, budget cuts in recent years have led to schools being unable to afford having ambulances on-site at football games. Copeland said that while her son's injury was a "freak accident," another player could face significant consequences if he sustains a more serious injury on the field and has to wait as long as Williams did for paramedics.

Larry Collins, an assistant professor in orthopedics and sports medicine at the University of South Florida, said blot clots as a result of injuries are rare for young athletes. More from the Times:

Collins, a physicians assistant, had not heard about the case, but said it reminded him of what's known as "compartment syndrome."

Compartments are groupings of muscles, nerves and blood vessels in the arms and legs. A traumatic injury to the leg can sometimes cause blood to fill up these compartments. Without quick surgical intervention to relieve the pressure caused by this bleeding, the muscle tissue can die.

Williams' amputation follows at least five reported deaths of high school football players this season.

The Northeast team will wear "69" stickers, representing Williams' uniform number, on their helmets for the final two games of the season to honor their teammate.

Ben Estes


SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.