A Roane County High School football player who collapsed during a game at Clay County High on Friday has died.
Alex Miller, a senior wide receiver/defensive back on the Roane County team, received immediate emergency medical attention and was taken to a local hospital, Roane County superintendent Richard Duncan said, but those efforts ultimately were unsuccessful. Duncan told MetroNews on Saturday that EMTs already were stationed at the game.
According to social media reports, Miller collapsed after the first quarter Friday night. The remainder of the game originally was postponed to Saturday, but now is postponed indefinitely.
Roane County High was opened to students, staff and community members Saturday afternoon to talk to counselors and local pastors. A Gazette-Mail photographer was asked to leave the school.
Further support would be provided in the coming days and weeks, Duncan said. The school planned to hold a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Saturday at Roane County Stadium in memory of Miller.
“We’re going to provide as much support as we can for folks to get through this,” Duncan said to MetroNews. “There’s no way to deal with it except just to be with one another.”
College and high school athletic programs from around the state offered their condolences to Roane County High and its community. On their respective Twitter feeds, the athletic programs at Herbert Hoover and Winfield high schools suggested wearing maroon on Tuesday in support for Roane County and in memory of Miller.
Gov. Jim Justice and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., were among others who offered condolences Saturday.
“Gayle and I are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic passing of Alex Miller last night,” Manchin said in a statement. “It is difficult to hear of someone so young and talented leaving us too soon. Roane County High School students, teachers and community are in our thoughts and prayers, and my staff and I stand ready to support the family and community as they mourn this tragic loss.”
Via Twitter, Justice said, “Today, our hearts are absolutely broken by the tragic loss of Roane County High School football player Alex Miller. Cathy and I are praying — with everything in us — for Alex’s family, friends, and the entire Roane County community during this unimaginably difficult time.”
Miller’s death was the first death of a West Virginia prep football player during a game since 2013, when South Harrison player Dylan Jeffries died nine days after suffering a severe head injury against Lincoln High. That same season, Ritchie County linebacker Chuck Schofield died following a head injury against Wirt County.
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, there were two deaths directly related to football in the 2018 season, both in high school, out of a total of approximately 4.2 million participants. That was the lowest total since 2006, when there was only one death directly related to football. From 2007-17, there were a total of 55 such deaths, with a high of eight in 2013.