By Mindy Ragan Wood
Southwest Covenant students and staff are mourning the tragic loss of sophomore football player Peter Webb following a game Friday night.
The 16-year-old sustained a severe head injury when the Strother quarterback fell back onto Webb after he tackled the quarterback, earlier news reports indicated. Webb did not get up. He was rushed to OU Children’s Hospital.
A day later, the school held a vigil and prayer service for Webb. He died Sunday.
Many believe the incident was a freak accident.
“It’s a very rare, rare occurrence,” Yukon Progress Sports Editor Chuck Reherman said.
“I’ve been doing this for 43 years and covered well over 1,000 games and never had this. I’ve seen kids injured but I think during that whole time there’s been one or two that were severely injured that needed rehab but never one that died.”
OSSAA Assistant Director Amy Cassell recalled two sports related fatalities in the last 25 years.
“As many as 25 years ago there was a student on the eastern part of the state that a death was attributed to head trauma,” Cassell said. “There was one at Wesleyan Christian. There have been a few in our state unfortunately.”
Cassell said the industry and regulators are constantly working on safety.
“Everyone is studying to minimize the risk as much as possible,” she said. “Even though everything is done according to protocol, it happens. The nature of the game is a bit violent.”
Southwest Covenant Headmaster Steve Lessman issued a statement following Webb’s death.
“The school family at Southwest Covenant greatly appreciates the love, prayers, and support that we have been shown amid this recent tragedy,” a prepared statement from the school reads.
“Peter was a servant-leader, always ready to help anyone in need. He was held in the highest regard by all his classmates. Teachers loved Peter and he was an outstanding student. As an athlete, Peter played a key role in our football, basketball, and baseball programs, even as an under classman. Peter is the fourth of five brothers who have all been accomplished athletes. However, each of them would say that Peter was going to be the best of all,” he said.
Coaches described Webb as talented and a hard worker and teachers “admired his respect and discipline in the classroom. Classmates loved Peter deeply. The character of this young man and the respect we all had for him cannot be contained in words. However, the greatest aspect of Peter’s life was his love and devotion to the Lord. Peter had placed his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior. His walk with Christ impacted every area of his life. We all rest in the confidence that Peter is apart from the body, but present with the Lord,” he said.
Strother Public Schools issued a statement from its Facebook page.
“It is with deep sadness that we have learned this morning of the passing of Peter Webb, Southwest Covenant football player, son, brother, friend, family member and teammate,” he said. “We ask for our Strother family to lift the Webb family, football team, and Southwest Covenant school up in prayer as they deal with this tragedy.”
Cassell said the way the Yukon community has come together is touching.
“That community is so impressive how they come together and hold each other up,” she said. “They do that as a family, as a community. It certainly does not mitigate in any circumstances what they’re going through but it’s so impressive how they support one another.”
Webb’s funeral service will be 11 a.m. Friday at Southwest Covenant Community Church in Yukon.