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Published January 21 2011

Perham basketball player in critical condition after collapsing during game

GLYNDON, Minn. – A Perham boys basketball player who collapsed during a game Thursday evening is in critical condition at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, a hospital spokesman said today.

Zach Gabbard, a junior, collapsed halfway into the first half of the game at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton High School, said athletic/activities director Craig Anderson.

Visit Zach Gabbard's Caring Bridge site here

A defibrillator, which is a device used to shock the heart, was used on Gabbard before he was rushed to the hospital.

Anderson said Gabbard was running down the court when he collapsed near the Perham bench.

“Game was going up and down … and he fell down in front of (the Perham) bench,” Anderson said. “Their bench went out to help him, and we had an emergency room nurse in the stands who is a D-G-F’er.”

He said a defibrillator was used on Gabbard before emergency crews rushed him to the hospital nearly 10 minutes after he initially collapsed.

D-G-F basketball coach Jason Sunde said the gym was “quiet” as players and fans were hoping for Gabbard to recover and get up.

“You see these things on TV or read it in the newspaper and my first thought was that this cannot be happening,” Sunde said. “This is a 17-, 18-year-old kid and he’s just out here playing a game.”

Coaches from both schools sent players to the locker rooms while administrators cleared fans out of the gym.

Fans from both schools left the gymnasium visibly shaken by what they had just witnessed.

A group of Perham players left with their parents while players from D-G-F had blank stares, attempting to process what had happened.

Perham head coach Dave Cresap talked with administrators before leaving the court to rush to the hospital.

“Just know this, the people here at D-G-F were great in helping us,” Cresap said. “You often hear about the bad in situations like this, but know the people here were amazing when it came to helping us.”

Anderson said when a situation like this occurs, the goal is to make sure assistance is available.

The next step, he said, is to make sure the necessary steps are taken to make sure emergency responders have everything they need to provide assistance.

“We’ve had times where a coach does not feel well or a kid has a concussion and gets back up,” said Anderson, who has been at D-G-F for 23 years. “But we’ve never had anything like this where we’ve had to take the defibs out. I’ve never seen anything like this. We are praying for him.”

Sunde said the incident provoked a lot of thoughts. It made him think about how players and coaches can take things for granted until something like this happens.

“You think about (Coach Cresap) and he’s probably known him (Gabbard) since he was in elementary school,” Sunde said. “He’s worked with that kid for years, and it was shocking for everyone involved, but probably more shocking for those who are really close to him.

“You just have to be ready when things like this do happen, which isn’t very often,” he said. “I am glad we could get to him quick and hopefully everything works out. We’re praying for him.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548