The Westminster boys lacrosse team suffered a major blow last weekend when J.C. Hutchins, considered by many to be the top goalie in Carroll County, was involved in a serious car accident that will leave him out of action for approximately six months.
Hutchins broke a bone in his left leg (femur) and tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and underwent a two-hour operation Saturday morning, when doctors inserted a permanent titanium rod in his leg.
According to his mother, Theresa Sipes, the incident occurred Friday night just before 7. After finishing practice and watching part of a girls lacrosse game, Hutchins, a senior, decided to drive to Littlestown, Pa., to visit his girlfriend.
Traveling through a dense fog on Route 97 near the Pennsylvania line, Sipes said her son apparently blacked out, crossed the center line, hit an oncoming car, and spun his pickup truck into a ditch.
An unidentified woman at the scene kept them informed via cell phone as rescuers extracted Hutchins, who was then transported to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
"He said that he had turned up the defroster, and that the next thing he knew he was waking up with glass everywhere," said Sipes, who learned of the accident when Hutchins called her husband, Owls assistant coach Bill Sipes, while still trapped in his truck.
The knee ligament injury may require a second surgery that would force Hutchins, a first-team All-County defensive lineman in football, to miss his freshman football season at McDaniel College. He also plans to play lacrosse at McDaniel next spring.
Sipes said that the occupants of the other vehicle declined medical treatment at the scene.
Westminster boys lacrosse coach Jim Peters learned of the incident later that night after receiving a call from athletic director Margaret Cush.
"My jaw dropped when I was first called," Peters said. "As soon as I found out he was OK, I was better, but then the second thing you start thinking about is I've got 30 kids that this has impacted. You have to go and deal with that, as well."
Teammates flooded Shock Trauma over the weekend to visit Hutchins. Once the shock had worn off, Peters turned his attention to filling a major void in goal, where Hutchins had been a second-team All-County selection last season.
"We had to regroup, but we also find ourselves lucky in one respect - we have [senior] Tim Crews," Peters said. "As a coaching staff, we've always thought that Tim could probably start at any of the other high schools. He just always has had to play behind J.C. through rec ball, through our JV program and now here.
"We told Tim, `You're the man. It's your show now.' He said, `But I never wanted it this way.' "
With Crews in goal Tuesday, the Owls defeated Glen Burnie, 18-2, to improve to 3-0.
Hutchins was released from the hospital on Monday. Sipes said Hutchins will try to attend tonight's game at Liberty.
"The fact that he can't play lacrosse this year is more painful than the leg," Sipes said. "All he keeps saying, is, `I can't believe this happened. It's my senior year.' His life could've been over. Thankfully, it's just on hold."