9-Year-Old Ohio Boy Dies During Youth Football Practice
The third grader's exact cause of death is still being determined by the Meigs County Coroner
A nine-year-old boy has died after collapsing during football practice in Ohio – the youngest in a string of student athlete deaths this season.
Third grader Wyatt Barber collapsed during after stopping to take a break during practice with the Meigs County youth football team, Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood told PEOPLE.
Coaches told police that the players had been playing in scrimmage run-throughs during the “light” practice and weren’t making contact, Wood said.
The young players were on a break when the coaches noticed that Barber was laying face down in the grass. They immediately called 911 around 7:30 p.m. and began administering CPR, Wood told PEOPLE.
“Monday evening our office had received a call from the emergency medical services and they were responding to a call that a young boy had collapsed on the field at Eastern High School football field,” Wood told PEOPLE, “and we didn’t know the age or anything at the time other than just an unresponsive person.”
Barber died Monday night at the Holzer-Meigs Emergency Department. A doctor was flown in from Columbus to help treat the boy and prepare him for a helicopter flight to Children’s Hospital 100 miles away in the state capital, but could not get him on the flight before he died, Wood said.
Police were not aware of any health conditions or problems that Barber might have had, and that the exact cause of death is still being determined by the Meigs County Coroner.
The Eastern Local School District, where Barber attended class, is offering grief counseling to all his classmates, the Superintendent Scot Gheen told the The Columbus Dispatch.
“The staff, students, and community of Eastern Local would like to express our sincere condolences to the family during this very unfortunate time,” he said in a statement.
A GoFundMe page has been set up in Barber’s name by a teammate’s mother, Michelle Sisson.
“The football program at Eastern is heartbroken as we lost one of our youngest little Super Eagles last night,” Sisson wrote on the page. “His parents, siblings, family, teammates, coaches, friends, classmates, teachers & our football family need lifted up in prayers and surrounded by love & support from our small community! Wyatt was small but mighty and always smiling! He was our smallest Eagle on the sidelines on a Friday Night with our Varsity Eagles! Our #56 will forever be missed!”
Wyatt Barber is the latest in a string of young student-athletes to die while playing football. Last month, three high school football players in different parts of the country collapsed and died in a single week.