The news has been updated in our original post with comments about Matt, but I first heard that he had passed away this morning at around 7am on the WFMY News2 morning show. WXII TV 12 came on with the sad news at aournd 7:15am.
The news that Matt Gfeller the young man, the sophomore football player, from Winston-Salem Reynolds, had not made it through the night and had died late night Saturday/early Sunday morning.
Matt was a linebacker for the WS Reynolds Demons and you probably read our reports about this tragic incident here at the site on Saturday. He was blocked by a Page Pirate lineman on a running play during Friday night’s game between Page and Reynolds over in Winston-Salem. Gfeller had trouble getting up after the block and that’s when emergency personel stepped in. He was then taken by ambulance to the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
He had bleeding around the brain and later in the day on Saturday he was declared brain dead as he had gone into a comma, but was kept on Life Support until all family members could be called in. Then a decision was made on whether or not to keep him on the life support machine.
Matt died sometime late last night or early this morning.
Rusty Lee, the Page Pirate Athletic Director, will be sending out a statement on behalf of the Page Pirates later today. Rusty Lee was calling us, during the Grasshopper baseball game broadcast against Greenville, S.C., with updates on the Page-Reynolds game back on Friday evening. Page went on to win the ball game 31-7 over Reynolds but Rusty said on his last call that the game had to be delayed for 40-45 minutes because of an injury to one of the WS Reynolds players. Rusty told us that the kid was hurt bad and that he might have broke his neck.
I got one more call from Rusty after the game and he sounded a bit shook up, and that’s when you begin to wonder how bad things might actually be. Matt Gfeller’s neck was broken and he didn’t make it, but to be honest with you, when I first heard the news, I was hoping that maybe he could pull through. Kurt Angle broke his neck back in 1996 and still went on to win a Gold Medal at the 1996 Summer Olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia while wrestling with a broken neck.
The injury to Matt Gfeller was much more severe and it ended up taking his life. A 15 year-old kid who’s first day of school at Reynolds was coming up on Monday never made it that far and you can’t help but to have a picture of him in your mind if you saw Matt’s photo in his Boy Scouts uniform over on the Winston-Salem Journal/journalnow.com web site. He was just a kid and he looked the part. He didn’t look like some big, bruising football player or the Kurt Angle-type.
You have to hate all of this for the Gfeller family and the entire student body at WS Reynolds and especially the Reynolds football team and their coaching staff. We need to keep all of them in our thoughts and prayers. We need to remember the Page team and their coaches too and especially the kid from Page that was involved in the block that took Gfeller down. The kid from Page was just doing his job and he was there as a freak accident occurred. What happened was part of the game and nothing else. Something like this hardly ever happens but this time the end result was tragic and the Page football program needs our prayers tonight and every night until the air becomes clear again and that will take a while.
Rusty Lee has had many job offers to leave Page over the years and to move up in his chosen field of Athletic Directorship and this might be a situation where the Lord said I still want Rusty at Page. He needed to be there when something like this tragic incident came along. Lee is now where he is for a reason and he will be the staying influence along with Pirate head coach Kevin Gillespie that keeps the Pirate program together during these trying times.
Bad things happen for a reason and there will be a group or faction that will become stronger through all of this sad incident. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and that seems to be case with the death of Matt Gfeller, a young man who served his family, football team and the Boy Scouts of America well. Many of us never knew him, but our respect is extended to him and his family members.
Well wil have that statement from the Page Athletic Department coming your way later today and thank-you for continuing to remember the Matt Gfeller family.