Tragedy struck South Carolina on Friday night when a popular lineman died shortly after being injured on the field while making a tackle.
The tragic accident occurred in Hartsville, S.C., where Hartsfield (S.C.) High was hosting Crestwood (S.C.) High for Hartsville's annual homecoming game. With just less than 4 minutes remaining in the first half and Hartsville holding a commanding 27-7 lead, senior defensive lineman Ronald Rouse was injured in a collision while reportedly making a tackle.
After the play, the 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive lineman remained on the turf, with coaches and trainers eventually able to get Rouse to his feet. He was helped from the field, but then immediately collapsed again on the sideline. He was immediately transported to an area hospital, but was unable to be revived and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
In an email sent to news sources throughout the state, Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington ordered all flags to be flown at half mast and asked the town to, "take a moment and ask God to be with this family, to help them find peace in this chaos, and to help this team deal with the grief and shock of losing a brother."
According to the Associated Press and a handful of other sources, the two teams played the remainder of the first half, which ended with the same 27-7 scoreline. Hartsville then held its traditional homecoming celebrations at halftime, crowning a full homecoming court, but the game was then suspended during because of Rouse's condition.
A number of players and fans for both teams traveled to Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center after the postponement to hold an impromptu vigil for the 18-year-old lineman, with many waiting to express their condolences to Rouse's family once news of his passing spread through the crowd.
There has been no word on whether or when the suspended game will be resumed, with both teams still stunned by what unfolded on the field in front of them on Friday night. Meanwhile, Darlington County Coroner J. Todd Hardy said that a full autopsy would be performed at some point on Saturday in an effort to determine precisely what caused the senior's death.
"It's heartbreaking to lose a young man so full of promise," Darlington County Superintendent Dr. Rainey Knight told SCNow. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Ronald's family, friends and teammates during this sad time."
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