Police report sheds light on response to Teddy Balkind tragedy

Police report sheds light on response to Teddy Balkind tragedy

GREENWICH — The police report on the accidental death of hockey player Teddy Balkind during a game at Brunswick School in January has been released, showing the efforts made to try to save the life of the wounded teenager.

Balkind, 16, a sophomore at St. Luke’s School, died after his neck was cut by another player’s skate on the Brunswick ice Jan. 6, according to the medical examiner’s report. The police report concluded the incident, which brought an outpouring of support for the Balkind family and those close to him from across the world, was an accident and closed the case.

The tragedy also drew nationwide attention to the issue of safety for players engaged in contact sports, the type of safety equipment used at hockey games and what kind of emergency medical personnel are on call at sporting events.

According to the police report, Brunswick did have an athletic trainer present at the game, as they do for all contact sports, but there was no ambulance on standby. The Brunswick trainer told police the school does not typically have an ambulance or doctor on the scene for hockey games but typically does for football games.

It is still unclear, however, if Balkind was wearing a neck guard, a piece of protective equipment that is not required by the league which governs prep schools including St. Luke’s and Brunswick although the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the state’s governing body for high school sports, does.

In the wake of Balkind’s death, a friend of his started a Change.org petitionwhich currently has more than 130,000 signatures, to make neck guards mandatory in USA Hockey. A state lawmaker also introduced legislation to require neck guards for all young hockey players in Connecticut and the state General Assembly considered creating a task force to study the issue of safety in youth athletics, with particular focus on the use of neck guards in ice hockey. Neither legislative effort was successful.

The police report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Hearst Connecticut Media, states that spectators at the rink watching the hockey game between St. Luke’s and Brunswick knew something horrible had happened almost immediately after a Brunswick player made contact with Balkind, accidentally hitting his neck with his blade.

Within seconds, according to the report, a St. Luke’s coach hustled to the injured player, and the Brunswick athletic trainer who also works in the capacity of a school nurse went to assist. A volunteer firefighter with emergency medical training also helped apply pressure to the wound, the report stated.

The athletic trainer “grabbed his medical kit and rushed to the ice moving as quickly as he could to the injured player,” the report stated.


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