A tight-knit Georgia community is mourning the death of a 17-year-old football player, who died just days after he was injured during a game, according to reports.
Dylan Thomas, an 11th grader at Pike County High School in Zebulon, was hit during the second quarter as the school’s Pirates played against the Peach County Trojans on Friday, his uncle Nick Burgess said, according to the Associated Press. Thomas later collapsed on the sidelines.
“I heard that he was saying that, you know, he wasn’t feeling right and that’s when his left leg and his left arm went numb and he pretty much fell off the bench,” Burgess told WAGA.
Thomas was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition, according to WAGA. He underwent two surgeries to reduce swelling in his brain. As doctors worked to save the teen, family members continued to hold out hope that he would be okay.
“Things are not looking good at all. I can’t even describe the pain I am feeling,” Burgess wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.
“Dylan Thomas is in very critical condition we will not know anything for another 12 hours. whether he will pull through or not as of right now his brain is still swelling even if he does pull through chances are he will not be the same.”
He wrote in another post: “I’m so stressed and worried about my little nephew who I love to death. Im worn out from crying so much an no sleep.”
On Sunday afternoon, hundreds from the community gathered for a prayer vigil for Thomas and his family at Pike Stadium. Thomas died that night, according to WAGA.
Officials honored the teen on the school’s website, posting a photo of Thomas’ football jersey (#32) hanging in the locker room. They wrote in a statement: “The Pike County community mourns the loss of Dylan Thomas. Please keep his family, friends, and team in your thoughts.”
In the wake of the death, family and friends shared memories of Thomas on Facebook.
“Tonight god gained a beautiful angel , gone way too soon , i will forever cherish all of our stupid memories and the way you made me smile when no one else could,” Allyson Prince wrote in a post on Saturday. “Dylan thomas you will forever be in my heart . god sure is lucky because pike sure is gonna miss you down here. rest easy dylan you’re finally pain free. i love you dylan.”
Another wrote: “We lost Dylan tonight shortly after the candle light vigil. I never admired a young man more than this one I called ‘Nephew’ Hold your loved ones a little longer, make that visit, make that phone call and always tell them you love them. We love you Dylan Michael Thomas.”
Burgess set up a Facebook fundraiser in Thomas’ name to help cover medical expenses and “lost income.” It has raised more than $27,000 in just two days.