Douglass player paralyzed by injury

November 16, 1993|By Lem Satterfield

City College football coach George Petrides said he did not realize until Sunday that 16-year-old Dion Johnson was paralyzed from the chest down by the injury he suffered Saturday in the opening seconds of City's 30-18 loss to Douglass of Prince George's County in a state football quarterfinal game.

"You hate to see anything like that happen," said Petrides of Johnson, a tight end for Douglass. "He was conscious and talking, but we knew it [the injury] was severe or something that they wanted to take extreme caution with. I had a call yesterday from a reporter and that was the first I'd heard how severe."

Johnson's neck was broken between his fifth and sixth vertebrae during a tackle seconds after the opening kickoff. Johnson is listed in serious condition at Washington Hospital Center. His stepfather, Samuel Washington, said Johnson is able to move his arms but not his hands.

"I have a kid who plays football, and you get a kind of empty feeling when something like this happens," said Petrides.

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