Wednesday, February 8, 2012

12 yr. old Lacrosse player dies after ball strikes him in the chest

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Gates, N.Y. – Tyler Kopp, the 12-year-old boy who was injured when a lacrosse ball hit him in the chest last week, has died, Strong Hospital confirmed Tuesday morning.

Tyler was in intensive care at Strong, after being hit by a ball while playing a game at Total Sports Experience in Gates, around 6 p.m. Thursday, February 2.

Tyler's father, Brian Kopp, issued this statement through the Brighton School District:
"On February 7, 2012, Tyler Kopp's body died but his spirit lives on with his family, friends and the many communities who were touched by his wonderful life. Tyler had great sensitivity toward others, a fierce determination and a strong competitive fire. He was the iconic boy - loving sports, the outdoors, and playing with his friends. The Kopp family extends its deepest gratitude to those who kept Tyler in their thoughts and prayers and supported us during the past few days. We have been overwhelmed by your kindness."

Friends and family have asked the media to respect the family’s privacy during this time.

The Brighton School District is making counselors available to meet with students and staff throughout the district.

Questions Surround Tyler Kopp's Death
Following the loss of such a young life, quite understandably, some will ask questions about what happened and what if anything could've been done differently. On Tuesday those questions come from a Long Island mother who has experienced the same pain the Kopp family is currently dealing with.

On March 25, 2000 Louis Acompora, 14, took the field in his first varsity lacrosse game. While playing goalie he blocked a shot with his chest, scooped up the ball, stumbled forward and collapsed. Acompora died from a condition known as commotio cordi which is best described as an abnormal heart rhythm brought on in his case by a ball striking him at precisely the wrong moment, directly over his heart.

Since her son's death Karen Acompora has advocated for increased safety in the sport of lacrosse and throughout scholastic competitions. In May 2002 "Louis' Law" was passed in New York State requiring all public schools to have AED (Automated External Defibrillation) and Emergency Action Plans in place. Since then Acompora, working through the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation, has continued to lobby for increased safety measures and procedures.

"It's heartbreaking, it's a sad horrible day because it shouldn't have happened," Karen Acompora told 13WHAM News by phone Tuesday afternoon. "An AED has to be available immediately, within two minutes, that facility should've had one...when did EMS arrive? With every minute that passes the chances of survival drops by 10 percent."

The owner of Unity Health System Total Sports Experience would not discuss specifics out of respect for the Kopp family. Andrew Galina did say however that Total Sports Experience does, and always has, had an AED on site. Galina added that protocol was followed.

Gates Volunteer Ambulance personnel were the first to utilize a defibrillator on Kopp.

"There are organizations out there that don't take it seriously," Karen Acompora said of AED and an Emergency Action Plan while not specifically referencing Total Sports Experience. "They just don't take it seriously because it won't happen to me, it won't happen to my kid, it won't happen to my team. And you know what? If it can happen to my boy it can happen to anybody."

You can learn more about the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation here:

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