PORTLAND, Ore. — A Hood River teenager is recovering in a hospital Friday night after tripping over his cleats and falling face first on a javelin during a U.S.A. Track and Field event at Jesuit High School.
His head coach Donnie Herneisen identified the 18-year-old as Parker Kennedy, a gifted decathlete and a recent graduate of Hood River Valley High School.
“He is one of our leaders on the team,” Herneisen told KATU’s Chris Liedle. “He has been around track and field for a long time, very knowledgeable about the sport.”
Herneisen did not attend Friday’s Junior Olympic events, but he described the incident as a random, tragic accident.
“I’ve known him since eighth grade,” he said. “He is very well-versed in a lot of events, so he was able to help a lot of our younger kids.”
The Oregon Chapter President of U.S.A Track and Field Jerry Westfall told KATU News that Kennedy was warming up, doing practice throws on a field. As he went to pick up the javelin, he tripped on the spikes of his cleats and fell forward, landing on the javelin.
Westfall says Kennedy removed the javelin from his head, but only after it had punctured through his right eye socket. Westfall says luckily the javelin traveled down toward his mouth and not up in the direction of his brain.
Westfall says Kennedy did not suffer brain damage, but will likely need reconstructive surgery. He says it appears doctors will be able to save his eyesight.
“His momma said the damage is not critical, but it’s up in the air,” Herneisen said by phone Friday evening.
Kennedy recently signed with the University of Washington. He will be participating on the track & field team.
Herneisen says the 18-year-old is a pole vault state champion and holds multiple state records at Hood River Valley High School. Kennedy also played basketball for the Eagles.
A Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue spokesperson says the incident happened around 1:30 p.m. He was flown to Emanuel Hospital in a helicopter ambulance where he’s reported to be in stable condition.