Spinal injury keeps Husky in hospital

  • JOHN SLEEPER / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, October 29, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By JOHN SLEEPER

Herald Writer

The extent of Curtis Williams’ spinal-cord injury may not be known for months.

Williams, the Huskies’ senior starter at strong safety who sustained the injury in Washington’s 31-28 victory over Stanford Saturday, still is under sedation in the intensive care unit of Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif. His condition is closely monitored and it appears he will stay at SMC for some time.

UW coach Rick Neuheisel said he and assistant coach Bobby Hauck briefly visited Williams Sunday morning and told him that he has the full support of the players and coaching staff.

“He was alert; he knew we were there, but could not at that time do anything other than blink his eyes to acknowledge that we were there,” Neuheisel said.

Williams cannot speak because he is breathing with the aid of a ventilator.

Neuheisel said Williams’ doctors found blood in the spine, meaning the spinal cord sustained some type of injury. Doctors can more easily determine the nature of the injury as the swelling subsides. Tests revealed no bone breakage, which is a positive sign, Neuheisel said.

“The doctors are very, very careful to offer anything other than uncertainty,” Neuheisel said. “It becomes clear to me that the protocol in this kind of an injury is one of wait and see, and to offer no words of encouragement or words of pessimism. They’ve seen these situations go several different directions.”

Neuheisel said doctors detected brief shoulder movement Sunday morning, but that Williams still is heavily sedated to limit movement and prevent further damage. While he is on a ventilator, reports were that Williams was breathing on his own en route to the hospital.

According to material from the Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center, swelling in the spinal cord may begin to go down days or weeks after the injury, and patients may then regain some function. Some may recover some function as late as 18 months after the injury.

Williams was injured in the third quarter in Saturday’s game when he collided helmet-to-helmet with Stanford tailback Kerry Carter. Williams’ injury, a contusion, is high in the cervical vertebra, the eight vertebra in the neck. The vertebra are named according to their location. The highest is C-1, the next C-2, and so on.

Williams’ injury occurred in the C-2 vertabrae, which, according to Spinal Cord Resource Center material, “usually” causes quadriplegia.

Still, the effects of spinal cord injuries depend on the type of injury and level of injury – complete and incomplete. A complete injury leaves no function, sensation or voluntary movement below the level of injury.

A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another, may be able to feel parts of the body that can’t be moved or may have more function on one side of the body than the other.

Williams, who was raised in nearby Fresno, has been joined by two of his brothers. The entire Washington team went to the hospital following the game, were advised of Williams’ condition, said a prayer and left for San Jose International Airport for their flight back to Seattle that night.

Stanford head football coach Tyrone Willingham also spent some time at the hospital, Neuheisel said.

Neuheisel and Hauck remained in Palo Alto for doctors’ reports after evaluations Sunday morning. Neuheisel and Hauck flew back to Seattle Sunday afternoon and updated the team of Williams’ condition in a meeting Sunday night. The Huskies (4-1 in Pacific-10 Conference play, 7-1 overall) are second place in the Pac-10 and will prepare this week for a home game Saturday against Arizona.

“I don’t think there’s any question that it’s going to be difficult,” Neuheisel said. “But I know for a fact that No. 25 would want it that way. We’ve got to find a way to get up and find a way to play and play with the kind of intensity that he brought to the game.

“He’s a fun player to watch. And I have a real deep feeling that he’s going to find his way out of the woods.”

Hospital officials have asked the public not to call for updates on Williams’ condition or to send flowers or cards. Neuheisel said an attempt is being made, with the cooperation of the family and Williams’ doctors, to give periodic updates through the media. But the hospital will no longer make any reports.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Boys Snohomish Little League 8-10 coach Aaron Barstad (kneeling) talks to the outfield during practice at the Snohomish Little League Complex in Snohomish, Washington on Thursday, July 18, 2024. Barstad’s team claimed the Washington District 1 Little League title, securing a spot in the 2024 Washington State 8-10 Baseball tournament held July 20-27 at the North Kitsap League Complex in Poulsbo, Washington. (Taras McCurdie / The Herald)
Baseball history in the making: Snohomish Little League 10U boys team is state bound

The 2024 District 1 champions became the first Snohomish boys team to advance.

Rays third baseman Isaac Paredes catches a pop fly in foul territory during Friday’s game against the Cleveland Guardians. (Jefferee Woo / Tribune News Service)
Ranking the best Mariners trade targets as deadline nears

Seattle needs to fill the offensive gap by July 30.

Matt Calkins: Forget the slow start, the Sounders are showing they’re title contenders

Seattle’s 2-0 win over St. Louis City FC launched it into sixth place in the Western Conference.

Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald talks with the media after practice at Under Armour Performance Center. The Seattle Seahawks hired Macdonald on January 31, 2024. (Kevin Richardson / Tribune News Service)
Seattle Seahawks roster breakdown: One thought on Geno Smith and every position group

The next phase of Mike Macdonald’s debut season as head coach of… Continue reading

Jurrangelo Cijntje pitches 2022 MLB Draft Combine held at Petco Park on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in San Diego, CA. Cijntje, from Mississippi State, was the Mariners’ first pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Mariners lean on college players, pitchers with ‘power arms’ as MLB draft concludes

Seattle’s 20 selections include 19 college players and one high schooler.

Jurrangelo Cijntje pitches at the 2022 MLB Draft Combine held at Petco Park on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in San Diego, CA. Cijntje, from Mississippi State, was the Mariners’ first pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Mariners go college route on second day of draft, take 2-way player Grant Knipp

Seattle chose youth and selected eight college players.

Tyler Cronk performs in the slam dunk competition during the Everett 3on3 tournament in downtown Everett, Washington on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Recap, videos and photos: 2024 Everett 3on3 was another slam dunk

Everett alumni place second; skills contests, food trucks and vendors were also in full swing this past weekend to celebrate the basketball tournament’s third edition.

View of T-Mobile Park from the Press Club. Ben Ray / The Reporter
T-Mobile Park at 25: Mariners fans share favorite ballpark memories

The venue turned a quarter of a century on Monday

Kamiak High School’s Victor Sanchez Hernandez Jr. puts on a University of Washington football helmet. Sanchez Hernandez, a three-star defensive end who’s heading into his senior season, committed to the Huskies. (Photo courtesy of Victory Sanchez Hernandez Jr.)
High school football recruiting: Here’s how Washington’s 2025, 2026 classes are shaping up

TNT sports reporter Jon Manley spoke with national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman.

Once an MLB bust, Mill Creek’s Travis Snider now hopes to change toxic culture

When Snider made it to the big leagues in 2008 at just 20 he was one of the game’s top prospects, touted as the Blue Jays’ next great hitter.

Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith found little room between South Carolinas Destiny Littleton (11) and Laeticia Amihere. (Carlos Gonzalez / Star Tribune)
These Olympians in the 2024 Paris Games have ties to Washington state

Nineteen athletes competing in France are from The Evergreen State.

From left to right: Arlington’s Kierra Reese and Stanwood’s Ellalee Wortham, Ava DePew and Presley Harris. The foursome, called “Awesome Mix 12,” won the High School Elite division in 2023 and returned to Spokane Hoopfest this year to claim the Women’s Competitive division title. (Photo courtesy Sarah Reese)
Winter Wesco rivals, summer hoopfest champions

Arlington’s Kierra Reese and Stanwood’s Ava DePew, Presley Harris and Ellalee Wortham teamed up to win back-to-back 3-on-3 titles.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.