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Athletic trainers and EMT personnel that work area sporting events know that when a player suffers any kind of neck injury that the best thing to do is keep the neck immobilized before doing anything else.
That knowledge may have saved Kingston sophomore Seth Haynes’ life Friday night. Haynes suffered a broken neck during Friday’s game at Sequoyah High School and has since gone through successful surgery at University of Tennessee Medical Center. While the injury is career-ending, things could have been a lot worse if not for the trained medical staff on the scene at the game.
“It was on the opening kickoff. He was the first one down there and the kid turned toward him,” Kingston head coach Brian Pankey said. “It was actually a pretty good form tackle. He has his head up and hit him with his shoulder in the hip. When I looked at the film though you could tell that he hit him where the shoulder and neck come together.
“The doctor at the hospital said that if the workers had moved him around or if somebody had tried to help him up that there was a good chance he would have died. He shattered his number three vertebrate and chipped or fractured his fourth. His surgery lasted more than five hours Saturday evening, but it went well according to his doctor. He’ll probably have to stay at the hospital a few days and he’s got a long recovery in front of him, but it sounds like he’ll be okay down the road. It could have been a lot worse.”
When Haynes left the field Friday, he had feeling in all his extremities so needless to say Kingston’s coaches and players were shocked to find out the severity of the injury later that night.
“We’re all kind of in shock. It’s not been a good season for the Yellow Jackets and adding this on top of everything is very tough,” Pankey said. “The coaches and a lot of his teammates have come up to see him, but morale is down right now for us.
“We all want to play football and nobody loves the game more than me, but seeing a kid go down with an injury like this puts things in perspective. Football is only a small part of these kids life and to see Seth make it through this with no paralysis is a true blessing. Football just doesn’t seem important right now.”
While Haynes’ injury has made football seem unimportant, the Jackets do have a game to play Friday night against Sweetwater and Coach Pankey hopes his team is able to focus.
“I know it’s tough right now, but we’ll try to have as normal a week as possible,” Pankey said. “Teenagers and adults work better when they have a routine and we’ll try to do things the way we always do although our thoughts and prayers will be with Seth.”
Pankey, however, says there will be some things a little different Friday night.
“We’re going to paint the number 10 on the K in the middle of the field and we’re going to order some number 10 decals for our helmets,” he said. “Seth is a big part of this football team. I talked with him and he wants us to beat Sweetwater on homecoming. I’m sure we’ll use that as motivation.”