Tulane University safety Devon Walker was seriously injured during a football game Saturday. The 21-year-old safety reportedly fractured his cervical spine after a head-on collision with a teammate during the game against the University of Tulsa. Walker will undergo surgery in coming days.
After the brutal collision, the crowd watched as Walker was carried off the field on a stretcher. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., according to CNN.
The game was suspended for about an hour, as Walker was cared for and fans were led in a prayer for his safety.
Tulane Athletics posted a statement describing Walker's condition soon after the incident: "Devon Walker sustained a cervical spine fracture ... He is at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa where he is in stable condition. Currently, he is in traction with a lot of swelling in his neck and he is undergoing treatment for the swelling. The current plan is for him to have surgery in the next one to two days. He is being treated by specialists. The Tulsa physicians did a great job taking care of Devon."
Dr. Felix H. Savoie III, Tulane's team doctor, confirmed that physicians on the scene had given him excellent care.
"He was stable when we transported him," Savoie told USA Today. "I do not think, based on the information we have, his life was ever in danger."
ESPN reported Savoie said Walker "actually never completely lost consciousness" and was breathing on his own.
Walker's family has not heard much more information than the average sports fan about Walker's injuries. "We haven't heard much at all," his brother Raymond said in account by the Associated Press carried by CBS News. "We're still kind of in the dark right now."
Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson described the difficulty of watching Walker in pain at a postgame press conference. Johnson also praised the rest of the Tulane team for finishing out the game, even though the team lost, 45-10.
''Just seeing a young man, one of our family members, on the ground, it was just difficult for our guys,'' Johnson said. ''It's no excuse, but I don't know if they could have focused. It was tremendous that they finished the game, as I thought about just saying, 'Hey look, let's not do anything else. Let's just get on the road and go.'"
Walker is a senior at Tulane, studying cell and molecular biology.