GRANITE CITY — The school district and city are mourning the loss of a 13-year-old boy who collapsed and died at a high school football practice June 17.
Toney Graham was pronounced dead at Gateway Regional Medical Center. Granite City School District Superintendent Jim Greenwald said he was an incoming freshman at Granite City High School.
“When you read about these things from time to time throughout the country that a player collapses in a practice and dies, you never think that it was going to happen here,” he said. “It’s a very unfortunate situation. I spoke with Tony’s mom yesterday (June 18), just offering some condolences and just to reach out. She seemed very saddened and was very appreciative that we called. I think she really appreciates everything the district is doing.”
Greenwald said he found out about the news at 6:05 p.m. June 17 through a text message from Principal Daren DePew.
“Principal DePew held a very nice meeting at the high school last night (June 18),” Greenwald said. “It was attended by 70 players and family members. We are offering some counseling for people if necessary.”
According to the report from the Madison County Coroner’s Office, Graham had no history of medical problems, and there was no report of complaints of illness. He was reportedly laughing and joking with his teammates before he suddenly collapsed onto the floor. The coaching staff rendered aid to Graham while awaiting arrival of Granite City Fire Department EMS.
“Needless to say, I was in total shock,” Greenwald said. “My job then was to call all seven board members, which I did, being the direct liaison. I informed them of the tragic news. Naturally, people want to know the specifics. I didn’t have specifics at that time. Throughout the evening, I gathered a little more information. I did talk to every coach that was there. I talked to (assistant coach) Fred Layne, I talked to (assistant coach) Brad Hasquin and I talked to (assistant coach) Justin Williamson. They were all very distraught. They were just stretching in an air-conditioned room. Nothing was done in an over-exerting type manner.”
The autopsy on June 18 didn’t report any evidence of trauma or foul play.
“It did yield evidence of cardiac disease; however, no exact cause of death will be prescribed pending further microscopic tissue examination and the completion of the usual and routine toxicology examination for the presence of alcohol and drugs,” Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn said.
The visitation is Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Grandberry Mortuary, 8806 Jennings Station Road in St. Louis; and the funeral is Saturday at 10 a.m. at Rhema Church, 2233 Cass Ave. in St. Louis.
Toney would have been 14 this past Sunday.