Sophomore Thomas Adams, 16, died after being hit in the chest by a pitched baseball.
Adams, catcher for the Garfield High School team in Garfield, N.J., was wearing a chest protector when he was hit by the pitch. He went into cardiac arrest and later died at nearby St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.
It’s likely that Adams experienced commotio cordis, a form of sudden cardiac arrest that can occur if someone suffers a blow to the chest at a vulnerable point in the heartbeat cycle. Commotio cordis is the second leading cause of sudden cardiac death in school athletes; last spring, a high school ballplayer in Florida died of commotio cordis after he collided with a runner while preparing to catch a fly ball.
MyFoxNY.com reports indicate that there was not a defibrillator available at the school where the team was practicing.
Dr. Marrick Kuken of the Heart Failure Program at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York told reporters that having a defibrillator at the indoor field could have made all the difference.
“An external defibrillator would have hopefully corrected that rhythm,” Dr. Kuken said. “We should as a society have these in every large gathering place to prevent such a tragedy from happening.”
Sudden cardiac arrest in youth sports is receiving increasing attention, with some cities requiring automated external defibrillators at schools and playfields. Information is available on AED funding options.