A student at a high school in Connecticut died after being seriously injured during an ice hockey game for junior universities on Thursday, officials said, leaving the team and its school community disappointed with their deaths.
The injury occurred when 10th grader Teddy Balkind fell on the rink during a match between two private schools in Fairfield County.
After Mr. Balkind fell, another player failed to slow down and ran into him. Officials said Mr Balkind’s neck was cut from the other player’s skate.
The game was stopped immediately and officers called 911, police said. Mr Balkind was treated at the scene before being taken to hospital, but he did not survive the operation, school officials said.
His death sparked waves of shock and grief in southwestern Connecticut.
The two schools – St. Luke’s School in New Canaan and Brunswick School in Greenwich – mourn what authorities have called an “unimaginable tragedy”. Local and professional hockey players offered their condolences and paid tribute to Mr. Balkind.
“Our community is in mourning,” said Mark Davis, head of a school in St. Luke’s, where Mr. Balkind was a student. “We lost a dear young man in a tragic accident. And the school St. Luca and Brunswick School are in shock as we work to support our students and families. St. Luke’s only focus at the moment is to take care of our devastated community. “
His hockey program wrote on Twitter that “no words are appropriate for the sorrow we all experience.”
The match started at around 5 pm and the game was “completely normal and unnoticeable” before the incident happened, officials at the Brunswick school said in a letter to alumni.
Mr. Balkind was a longtime ice hockey player, often wearing number 5 on his shirt and skating for the New Canaan Winter Club. He has visited St. Luke’s, a private institution with grades 5 to 12, since high school, where he was once recognized for making the school’s “work of the week.”
Photos on his public Instagram page told the story of a teenager who loves nature and sports. Videos show him riding mountain bikes and jumping over trails in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. An image shows him celebrating a national championship with his hockey team.
The latest photo, published on October 5, shows him riding a bike through a mountain park. Below him, nearly 1,000 people left comments full of hearts and messages from “RIP” and “calm friend”.
Mr Balkind’s family could not be reached for comment on Saturday. School officials said in statements that his father was in the audience of the match and traveled to the hospital with him.
Clark Jones, director of hockey at the New Canaan Winter Club, called Mr Balkind a positive presence on the team and said the community was deeply struggling with the loss.
“We lost a great young man,” Mr. Jones said wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Always smiling, a great teammate and a passionate hockey player.
St. Luke’s was closed Friday for snow, but school officials told students the building would be open to offer community members a place to handle the death.
Officials at Brunswick School, the private school for all boys and the host of Thursday’s match, said in messages to students that there will be counseling and support services for hockey players.
After Mr. Balkind’s death was confirmed in local news, families and community members in New Canaan inclined hockey sticks and other sports equipment to the crates of their doors and their porches in his memory.
The news also reached the National Hockey League. Cam Atkinson, right winger of the Philadelphia Flyers, shared a photo for his participation in the remembrance on social networks, writing that he is “with a broken heart” for the family. “It’s a terrible tragedy to play the game we all love,” he said.
The league and other teams, including the New York Rangers, also released messages to Mr Balkind’s family.
“Although it is difficult to describe in words the impact of such a loss, know that our thoughts, prayers and hearts are with you.” Rangers wrote on Twitter.