- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Maryland receiver Guilian Gary was listed in good condition last night after he suffered a cervical spine injury during practice yesterday afternoon in College Park.

Gary, a senior, was flown by helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and underwent tests last night, including X-rays and a CAT scan, which came back negative for spinal damage. The senior later was transferred to Kernan Hospital, a University of Maryland-owned rehabilitation center on the western outskirts of the city, and kept overnight as a precaution.

He will be reevaluated this morning.

Gary was hurt during a light-contact play after taking an option pitch and running downfield. He fell and hit his head awkwardly, and did not get up as the rest of the team went back to the huddle. Gary was conscious, but virtually motionless for 45 minutes before being taken on a stretcher to the helicopter.

"He said it was like a bolt went through him, and he couldn't feel his hands or his feet," said Sandy Worth, Maryland's head trainer, who attended to Gary. "That came back and it was just tingling and numbness that he had. He said he felt [the bolt for] like a second. That pretty much resolved. He was able to move his fingers and move his toes, to move about a little bit."

Gary continued to have numbness in his left arm and pain in his neck before leaving the field, according to Worth. She said Gary was able to use his fingers to squeeze her hand and to move his feet before being transported.

The Terrapins took a brief break as Gary received medical attention. Then they resumed practice despite the fact that their leading receiver the past two seasons was lying facedown on the sideline of the same field. Gary later was turned over onto his back, then put onto a backboard and finally a stretcher to help transport him. The medics left his helmet on when they strapped him to the stretcher.

After practice, many teammates huddled together in small groups to pray for their fallen friend. Several left the field in tears and were too distraught to speak to the media. Most Terps tried not to look as Gary was flown from the artificial turf field as they ran plays on a nearby grass field. They couldn't escape the glaring lesson in mortality.

"You try to put it out of your head," fellow receiver Scooter Monroe said. "It can happen to anyone on any play. You have to push through it. You pray for your teammate and just go out and play."

Gary was injured midway through the two-hour practice as the team was running plays at half speed.

"He caught the pitch and did his favorite move," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He usually ducks under people, and then he went down. I thought he ducked under somebody. Now, whether he hit somebody's knee or something, I didn't see. His head was pointing towards the sidelines. I didn't notice anything. Then I looked back and he was down. I blew the whistle before he went down. It wasn't even a live drill."

The Terps had a similar situation several years ago when Erwyn Lyght suffered head and spine injuries in a game in Byrd Stadium and was flown to shock trauma. Lyght wasn't seriously hurt and soon returned to the team.

Gary, a 21-year old New York native, was flown to the trauma unit largely as a precaution. Maryland team physician Ann Curl examined him after he landed in Baltimore.

Friedgen called a team meeting shortly before the helicopter landed and explained the situation. Despite the chaos, the coach tried to keep as focused as possible during the trying time.

"They didn't need to be alarmed," he said. "We were going to take every precautionary measure for Guilian. We told them that he hit his head and had some numbing. We told them we didn't think it was serious, but we don't know. The helicopter is going to come on to the field, but don't be alarmed. We are going down to the other end of the field and finish practice."

The Terps were running plays as Gary was airlifted. Soon after, the team concluded practice and was left pondering the day's troubling event.

"It's the reality of the game," offensive coordinator Charlie Taafe said. "I don't know if I have ever seen it in that type of drill. I've seen [injuries] in live contact drills. This was what we call a 'tag-off' tempo. The defender just comes up, and it's like two-hand tag. They just got him at the wrong spot at the wrong time."

The Terps hope all the precautions were simply that, and that Gary will rejoin the team soon.

"You don't fool around with something like that," Friedgen said. "You just take every precaution."

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