Burleson (Texas) High School junior football player Jonathan Lopez is recovering after he suffered a serious head injury following his team’s game Friday night.
A GoFundMe page has been set up in Lopez’s honor to help his family with medical expenses.
According to the Burleson Star, Lopez recorded his first two tackles of the season as the team improved to 3-2 with a 45-3 victory over Joshua. Lopez and some teammates went out to eat after the game at a local Buffalo Wild Wings. As they were leaving, he fell off the tailgate of a pickup truck, falling and suffering “a traumatic head injury which left him with brain bleeding, swelling of the brain and a couple fractures on his skull,” according to the GoFundMe page.
Burleson coach Gary McElroy called it “a crazy, freak accident.”
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Lopez was released from the hospital on Tuesday, but his recovery is far from complete. The accident and Lopez’s subsequent injury have affected the Burleson team and community as a whole.
“It’s been rough on them. It’s been rough on our entire team and community,” Burleson coach Gary McElroy told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I think every coach, regardless of sport, mentions this to their teams: You don’t know when you’re going to play your last play, your last minute or round of golf. You have to practice hard, you have to play hard. You don’t know when your last one is going to be.
“You just never know. Don’t wait, make sure you’re cautious, take care of yourself. I’ve tried to focus on the positive. Jonathan is improving every day.”
Lopez’s accident came just a week after 15-year-old John Moran, a sophomore junior varsity player at nearby Mansfield High School, died after rupturing his spleen.
Neither incident happened during the course of play, as Moran reportedly incurred the ruptured spleen while playfully sparring with a friend.
As for Lopez, his team will honor him before Friday night’s home game against Everman.