Player from Sandalwood Collapses, Dies; Phillip Jackson Was Getting Ready for the Second Half in a Basketball Game

By Elliott, Jeff; Sanders, Topher | The Florida Times Union, December 22, 2009 | Go to article overview

Player from Sandalwood Collapses, Dies; Phillip Jackson Was Getting Ready for the Second Half in a Basketball Game


Elliott, Jeff, Sanders, Topher, The Florida Times Union


Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT and TOPHER SANDERS

A Sandalwood High player collapsed at halftime of a basketball game Monday afternoon and later was pronounced dead at Memorial Medical Center.

Phillip Jackson, 18, a senior who played defensive end for Sandalwood's football team and center on the basketball team, had played the entire second quarter of a game against Nease High in a holiday tournament at Parker High School.

After a brief talk from coach Rocky Cusack at halftime, the players started filing out the door to return to the court. That's when Jackson collapsed.

"It looked like he had a small seizure right before he fell to the floor," Cusack said. "Before that, he seemed fine. He didn't play the first quarter, but he played all of the second quarter."

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue workers received the call at about 3:30 p.m. and arrived at the scene shortly after.

Cusack said Jackson had a slight pulse when paramedics arrived at the school. Jackson's parents were in the grandstands for the game and accompanied their son to the hospital.

"You just wish you could do something more," a shaken Cusack said. "At this point all we can do is offer our support and our prayers to the family."

Several of Jackson's teammates, along with a number of Sandalwood students gathered at the hospital to pay tribute to their teammate and friend.

"He was a super kid and a great athlete that was in real good shape," Cusack said. "He had never shown any signs or symptoms of any problem, nor did he have any injury from football.

"Phillip was such a good kid and was well-liked by everyone. It's just a freak of nature of playing the game."

Nease coach Scott Cooper had just come out of his locker room at halftime when a Sandalwood player yelled for him to call 911.

"I didn't know what the situation was, but I made the call right away," Cooper said. …

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