"Ryan is well-known by friends, teachers and coaches for his charm, exceptional wit and humor," his school said in a statement

By Caitlin Keating
January 16, 2018 03:37 PM

A 16-year-old high school sophomore has been left paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breath on his own after suffering a severe spinal cord injury during a wrestling match on Wednesday.

Ryan Joseph, of Pleasant Hill, California, was competing for the JV wrestling team at College Park High School when something suddenly went wrong during his match.

“The guy took him down and put him in a hold, and then the ref shook him off and he shook his head like, ‘I can’t get up’ so he just laid there and the ambulance had to come and take him,” Joseph’s friend from kindergarten, Adam Samhan, told ABC7 News.

Ryan Joseph
| Credit: GoFundMe

Joseph — who is now in the ICU at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek — suffered a C4 spinal cord injury, according to a statement on his school’s website.

“Ryan is well-known by friends, teachers and coaches for his charm, exceptional wit and humor,” the statement reads. “His family gives heartfelt thanks for the kindness and support they have received from the many communities Ryan has touched at College Park, Pleasant Hill Middle School where his sister is an 8th grader, and Pleasant Hill Elementary School.”

According to ABC7, he also plays lacrosse and is the son of Tom Joseph, a former star athlete at De La Salle.

“Everyone likes him. He’s outgoing and everything,” Samhan added. “He’s a nice dude — like all the teachers love him. Smart guy, always never showed off in front of others. He was just a nice guy overall.”

A GoFundMe page was created to help with medical costs. “Hopes and prayers are for Ryan to have a speedy recovery and one day regain mobility for independent living,” a statement reads.