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Montclair High School Student Critically Injured During Football Game

On Monday, October 13, Montclair High School junior Ryne Dougherty was critically injured during a junior varsity football game with Don Bosco Prep School in Ramsey. Ryne was rushed to Hackensack University Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage and underwent immediate surgery. As of today, October 14, Ryne remains in critical care.

This morning, Montclair Superintendent of Schools Frank Alvarez met with Interim High School Principal Judith Weiss, the football coaching staff and key administrators at the high school. The focus of the meeting was to report the status of Ryne’s condition insofar as it’s known, and to develop a support plan for students and staff who may be having difficulty coping with the sudden incident.

During the meeting, the Superintendent reported that Ryne’s medical team had informed the family that it was unlikely that Ryne’s condition would improve. Dr. Alvarez, who spent time with the Doughertys in the hospital this morning, urged that media and others refrain from contacting the family in order to preserve their privacy during this difficult time.

“This is a tragedy for our community, and we stand behind Ryne and his family,” the Superintendent said.

A school-wide announcement was made this morning to students at the high school, and an email blast was sent to their parents, reporting the incident and announcing that Student Assistance Counselors (SACs) and on-call psychologists will be on campus for students and staff members today and tomorrow. The counselors will be available on a drop-in basis in the library, cafeteria and unit offices during school hours.

“We are providing guidance to the entire school community, with special attention to the football players and coaches and to the Civics and Government Institute, of which Ryne is a member,” Superintendent Alvarez said.

John Porcelli, Assistant Principal of Athletics and Student Activities, stated today that the incident did not seem to have been caused by Ryne’s or other players’ actions or by a lack of safety precautions during the game.

“Our athletes’ safety is always paramount. We want them to know that although accidents can occur in any game, every precaution will always be taken by our coaching staff and that of our opposing teams,” Porcelli said. “By all accounts, that was certainly the case yesterday. There were no reports of unsafe play or of fair game rules not being observed.”

It is not known at this time why Ryne collapsed following a minor skirmish. Staff, players and fans at the game reported that Ryne tackled another player, without any above-the-neck contact between himself and the other young man, then abruptly collapsed. He stood briefly before collapsing a second time. An ambulance was immediately summoned by coaching staff and Ryne was rushed to Hackensack University Medical Center, the nearest hospital and one in which a Trauma Center is based.

Dr. Alvarez spoke for the school and district in expressing his support of the family and Ryne. “We reach out to the community to join us in keeping Ryne in our thoughts and prayers.

“This young man is a valued member of our school community, a member of the Civics and Government Institute and a bright, promising student we’re proud to call our own,” Superintendent Alvarez said. “He’s very much in all of our thoughts today and we’re all pulling for him.”

Article Date: Oct 14, 2008