Colorado teen collapses during rugby match, dies
Matthew Hammerdorfer died shortly after a rugby match in Colorado.
March 7th, 2011
08:05 AM ET

Colorado teen collapses during rugby match, dies

Another teen athlete has died suddenly during a game.

Matthew Hammerdorfer of Fort Collins, Colorado, collapsed during a rugby match Saturday. The 17-year-old's death was caused by complications from a heart condition, according to CNN affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver.

Friends of the teen told reporters that he was a multi-sport athlete, the station said. He loved mountain biking and reggae, a friend told CNN affiliate KCNC who saw Hammerdorfer collapse.

Witnesses said Hammerdorfer took a hit on the field Saturday, fell and did not get up,  KMGH reported. "We got reports that the victim was in seizure at some point before and during our response," said Patrick Love, spokesman for the Poudre Fire Authority, according to the station. The teenager was taken to a hospital, where he died, the station reported.

On Sunday, hundreds attended visitation of a Michigan high school basketball player who died during a game last week. Wes Leonard, 16, of Fennville, died moments after scoring the winning basket in overtime Thursday, securing a perfect season for the Fennville High School Blackhawks. Leonard scored his team's last four points in the 57-55 victory.

An autopsy Friday revealed Leonard died of cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart, according to Dr. David A. Start, the Ottawa County chief medical examiner.

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Filed under: Basketball • Health • Rugby • Sports
soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. OegonMom

    Most of the athletes that die from an "unknown heart condition" are suffering from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. My 18 year old son has it. He played baseball and basketball in elementary and junior high school, and it was NEVER caught on a sports physical, and he had several. Diagnosis usually requires an EKG or Echocardiogram. His condition was caught by a general practicioner who thought he "heard something" when listening to my son's heart during an appointment to remove a wart during his Junior year of high school. All athletes should have these tests!

    March 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CNN President

    right right, sure it's 5 times more expensive, and I'm the CNN president.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jc

    We were at the game saturday, my son plays on Matts team. It was simply heartbreaking to watch this happen...everybody was and still is in shock. It should be known that Matts last gesture was to help an opposing team member up off the pitch...he took a couple of steps then collapsed. I think its a testiment to the type of kid Matt was. Our heart felt condolences to the Hammerdorfer family.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aidan

    It is a tragedy. My condolences to the family

    March 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TJM

    I have to agree with some of the folks here, kids do run around and play, BUT athletes push the limits in physical activity and aggressive play not to mention the stress of our WINNING society. Having a cardiac exam prior to participating in organized sports should be required. They require a sports physical which consists of listening to the heart and lungs, an eye chart test, and a look at the skeletal formation and perhaps balance. The physical needs to be more in-depth for athletes

    March 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rikers

    Oh no, not another teen.

    March 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. egotripen

    Sorry to the families involved. At very least the died enjoying what they liked to do! It is still very sad to see someone sooo young die way before their time...

    March 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel

    Sad to hear one of my fellow Ruggers has fallen. It's definitely the most strenuous sport I have ever played, puts football to shame in terms of toughness required, is physically and mentally exhausting. Guy in the picture doesn't look too big and being one of the smaller guys does take a toll on you, I'm 5"10" naturally 165, I had to bulk up to 195-200 to handle it. I've played soccer my whole life so the stamina requirements aren't insane but they are tough when you are carrying extra weight and taking a pounding. Anyway my point is this. There is a reason even football players fear our game. Because Rugby is the hardest game there is plain and simple. There is not one guy on the field who doesn't understand your life is at risk in that game.

    I'm sorry the kid died but glad he got to do so doing something he loved which is very rare privilege in this life.

    As for the heart thing it's so tough. The amount of exertion needed for a lot of these so called "conditions" to show up on an EKG or something is not something easy to replicate in a doctor's lab. True you can put someone on a treadmill but that is really a small % of it. To get a real measure of a person's condition you need to dehydrate them, deny them of their usual caloric intake, then make them exhaust themselves. A stress test only involves running with no control of food or water so how can it possibly detect what will happen when you are exhausted and dehydrated?

    As for the heart

    March 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      why would you be deyhdrated and calorically depleted playing rugby? You've heard of food and water, right?

      March 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. NeptuneRex

    Rugby kills, if we had more...Ruby control laws this would not have happened. Make all Ruby player register and provide DNA samples and go through trainning.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JJ2011

    As someone who grew up with a heart problem, who had heart surgeries, and who played contact sports, I have a hard time hearing people blaming the parents for this tragedy. If a child dies in a car accident, would you blame the parent for letting them get inside a vehicle? I certainly hope not. This is similar. Having a heart problem and playing sports does come with an inherent risk, but so does pretty much everything else in life. Every year, thousands and thousands of kids with heart defects play sports, very few of them die. Moreover, I too grew up in Colorado, and we did have to get physicals to play sports. But, if you had a heart problem, you had to also get cleared by a cardiologist. All the t's are crossed and the i's dotted.

    You can't expect kids with heart problems not want to be kids. And, you can't expect parents of a child with a heart problem to limit all of their activities because of the unlikely risk that something might happen. It's not fair to the parent or the child. We all make choices that involve risk; whether we have heart problems or are healthy as an ox – life is very much a crap shoot. This is one of those tragedies that is no one's fault. Sometimes, bad things just happen.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mom

      @JJ2011 Nicely Put and so true!

      March 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Renegademama

    Screening with an echocardiogram would likely have been what would have detected the Colorado boy's heart enlargement. The best scenario would be to screen all kids playing high school sports with an echo, but it's cost prohibitive with the current system. If we could find a way to screen these athletes with mobile units on site and do it cost effectively, I believe it would save lives. I also believe women should be screened for heart issues just as they are screened with mammograms. More women will die from heart disease than breast cancer. Too many heart issues are explained away by other things.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Renegademama

    It should be a law that AED are present at sporting events and other crowd events at school. It may not be needed for the athletes, but certainly for any of the patrons.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pasadena1

    Enlarged hearts are best detected with an echo. Anybody have any idea how much this would cost to have every child get an echo??? What about the parents that dont make much money-those kids couldnt play at all. A simple history is generally all that is needed to screen these kids for heart problems. You will never catch them all.

    March 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. FlankerChris

    It is sad to see a young member of America's growing rugby community leave us so young. I know the thoughts and prayers or ruggers and their families all over go out to the family, team and community of this young man. Kia Kaha.

    March 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PedDoc

    Clearly this should be a reminder to get sports physicals. And don't go to some Doc-in-the-Box or chiropractor because it's $35. See a real doctor–remember those folks who went to school for a really long time? Also, whoever suggested a heart CT has no idea what they're talking about. CTs have lots of radiation, and we don't do them on hearts. Maybe if people would pay attention to what recommendations are, this would happen less. Yes, some cardiac deaths in physically active kids would still occur, but it would be a lot less. This is of course tragic though.

    March 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
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