Wharton High football player in coma after freak accident - FOX 13 News

Wharton High football player in coma after freak accident

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A community in North Tampa gathered Wednesday at Cypress Community Church to pray for a Wharton High School football player injured in a freak accident before practice last week.

Sean McNamee, 16, was taking part in a pre-practice drill and hit his head on a paint machine; he remains in a medically-induced coma.

Roughly a couple hundred friends and family, including Sean's grandfather, Doug McNamee, joined together for a candlelight vigil to pray for his recovery.

"We're not here to eulogize Sean. We're here to celebrate Sean and who Sean is," said Doug McNamee told the crowd of teenagers and adults that packed into the church auditorium. "Sean is struggling right now. That's why we're here."

The elder McNamee said these events are important because they help the community heal and move forward.

"This is something that you're going to remember for the rest of your life. It's a catastrophic injury to one of your friends," he said as his voice broke with emotion. "We have to continue to pray for Sean but don't dwell on your sadness."

The McNamee family's attorney, Steve Yerrid, released a statement that read, in part, "as the courageous young man everyone knows him to be, Sean is in a coma and lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life...the family asked that I express their extreme gratitude to all those who have shown such tremendous support and offered prayers."

Yerrid went on to say his goal is to "make certain the full unbridled truth is made known," but didn't indicate whether the family plans to file a lawsuit against the school system.

A Hillsborough County Schools spokesperson also released a statement saying the incident is under investigation and "the district and the Wharton High School family are praying for Sean and have offered support to the McNamee family during this very difficult time."

Doug McNamee, a former football coach himself, ended his remarks with words of encouragement for those who care most about his grandson: "Play hard. Play fast. Play strong. Pray for Sean."

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