Southern Indiana's Jeron Lewis Dies During Game
Jeron Lewis (right), a player at D-II Southern Indiana, died Thursday night after hitting his head on the court during a game against Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Ky.
According to the Evansville Courier and Press, Lewis, 21, fell to the ground after his feet became tangled during a play. Multiple witnesses said that Lewis hit his head on the fall. Lewis, a 6-foot-8 forward, began convulsing as trainers attended to him. He was taken to Owensboro Mercy Health System, where he was later pronounced dead at 9:52 PM CT.
"The University community is heartbroken with the passing of this outstanding young man," Southern Indiana President Linda L.M. Bennett said in a statement on the school's website. "Jeron was an excellent example of a student athlete who strove to be the best that he could be. He will be truly missed, not only by his teammates, but by the University community. Our prayers are with Jeron′s family in their time of need."
The tragic incident took place with just over four minutes left in Thursday night's game, which was completed after Lewis was taken off the court on a backboard and gurney. Southern Indiana won the contest, 74-69 -- Lewis had 15 points and five rebounds. The Courier and Press reported that Lewis' teammates were made aware of Lewis' death approximately 30 minutes after the game ended.
"The play was under the basket. The ball was rebounded, we were on defense, and the next thing I knew -- most everyone knew -- all of a sudden the officials start blowing whistles, and Jeron was motionless with the trainer from Kentucky Wesleyan," Southern Indiana athletic department spokesman Ray Simmons told The Associated Press. "They started giving him treatment, took him to the medical center. That is where he passed away."
"There's no victory tonight," Southern Indiana head coach Rodney Watson told the Courier and Press. "With this Jeron Lewis situation, it's not about basketball."
The Courier and Press reported Friday that Daviess County (Ky.) coroner Bob Howe announced Lewis had died of natural causes. Howe said that Lewis "had some heart problems," and that Howe found no sign of head trauma during an autopsy.
Southern Indiana has another game scheduled for Saturday, at home against Quincy University -- no decision has been made on the status of that game yet, though the school is reportedly considering postponing it.
Lewis, a senior, was in his second season at Southern Indiana after transferring from Northeastern Junior College (Colo.). He averaged 6.1 points per game in 34 appearances last season, and was averaging 12.2 points per game this season in 14 starts.
Lewis missed two games earlier in the season to attend the birth of his first child in Fort Wayne, Ind., his hometown.