Brodie McCarthy mourned at Montague high school after rugby game death
Rugby player was coherent after coming off field, then collapsed moments later, principal says
Students and staff at Montague Regional High School in Prince Edward Island are grieving Monday after one of its student athletes died from a head injury suffered during a school rugby game.
Brodie McCarthy, a Grade 12 student just weeks away from graduation, died Sunday morning, said Montague principal Seana Evans-Renaud.
"We're a grieving school right now and will be for quite awhile," she said. "It's been heartbreaking for staff and students."
McCarthy, 18, was playing in the David Voye Memorial rugby tournament in Summerside on Friday when he was injured in what Evans-Renaud described as "a normal rugby play."
'Nothing untoward' about play
"There was nothing remarkable about it. There was nothing untoward about it."
After the play, McCarthy called for a substitute and walked off the field, Evans-Renaud said. The coach checked him over and asked him several questions.
"He was coherent. He was able to answer all the questions that were asked of him," Evans-Renaud said. "And then the coach asked him to sit on the grounds by the sidelines and it was there that he collapsed and the ambulance was called and he was taken to the hospital."
There were a lot of tears but I think that we were able to give each other support by being here together at the school.— Seana Evans-Renaud
She said McCarthy's twin brother, who also plays on the team, accompanied him to the Prince County Hospital along with a coach and Brodie's girlfriend, while his parents were called.
He was then transported to a hospital in Moncton where he underwent surgery. He didn't recover. He was put on life-support for a time as his family had chosen to donate his organs, according to Evans-Renaud.
Evans-Renaud described McCarthy as an academic student who was well-liked, athletic and "very fun-loving."
"One of the teachers actually just said it was difficult to get angry at Brodie even if he did something wrong," she said.
The Montague Vikings rugby team has decided not to play its remaining league games. All other high school rugby games on P.E.I. are cancelled or postponed this week out of respect for McCarthy, according the P.E.I. School Athletic Association.
P.E.I.'s Public Schools Branch says any time there is a tragedy like this, it will reflect on its practices to ensure the best protocols are in place.
The P.E.I. Dept. of Justice and Public Safety says the New Brunswick coroner's office is the investigating agency in the death. Summerside police are assisting by gathering information from officials, coaches, witnesses and possibly players, but they stress it is not a criminal investigation.
On Saturday afternoon, the day after the accident, school officials decided to open Montague High. The students "came ìn droves," Evans-Renaud said.
"There were a lot of tears but I think that we were able to give each other support by being here together at the school."
Counsellors at school
Counsellors were at the school when classes resumed on Monday. Evans-Renaud said the school has been getting calls from parents who said their children were struggling with the tragedy.
"We're going through a grieving process and we need to work through that as a school," she said. "We're just going day by day and trying to support each other."
Terri MacAdam, director of student services with the Public Schools Branch, said the school sports community is tight knit, and counselling consultants were sent to all Island high schools on Monday. She said students grieve in different ways, but it's important to be there for them if they need help.
"Some kids like to be left alone, some kids like to be with their peers, but keep reaching out to your kids to make sure they're doing OK," MacAdam said.
"We're not trying to be invasive in any way at all. Just check in and let them know that we're here if they want someone to talk to."
MacAdam said schools across the Island and as far away as Nova Scotia have been sending food and condolences to Montague High. Parents had set up a barbecue outside the school Monday.
The Montague rugby team had been playing against East Hants Rural High School when the accident happened on Friday. Counsellors were at that school on Monday, as well, said Jennifer Rodgers of the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education.
"Our thoughts are with Brodie's family, friends and players on both teams during this difficult time," she said.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time. The school said if his funeral is held on a school day, the school will close out of respect.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support the McCarthy family.
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With files from Laura Meader and CBC's Maritime Noon