Football player still critical

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / August 15, 2000

RESERVE – The hallways of the East St. John High School field house werequiet Tuesday morning.

They seemed quieter this week after the near drowning of senior defensive lineman Rashad Williams in a swimming pool at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Thibodaux Friday afternoon.

Williams, 18, of LaPlace, was listed in critical condition Tuesday morning at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center. He has been unconscious since theincident but is breathing on his own.

“We have got to have a lot of faith,” East St. John head football coachRonnie Stephens said. “We are hoping and praying he comes through this.”East St. John was wrapping up a four-day football camp at Nicholls StateUniversity and preparing to return to LaPlace. Williams and a friend enteredthe pool after completing a morning practice. Williams was observed indistress by his friend, and two hotel employees who were able to pull him from the pool. Authorities did not know how long Williams was in the pool.Hotel employees placed a 911 call at 12:31 p.m. Officer Laura Guise of theThibodaux Police Department was in the area and responded to the scene in less than a minute. When Guise arrived Williams was unresponsive. She andan East St. John football coach began to perform CPR, and Cpl. JohnStennett with the Thibodaux Police Department soon arrived and assisted Guise with CPR until Acadian Ambulance Service arrived.

Medics were able to establish and sustain a pulse on Williams, who was transported to Thibodaux Regional Medical Center emergency room, where he was listed in critical condition.

Preliminary investigative findings by the police department indicate that Williams did not know how to swim. The police department also learned thatthe pool area at the hotel had been closed during the team’s stay and was listed as off limits.

Counselors from the St. John the Baptist Parish School System met withteam members and the coaching staff Monday afternoon. The team held apractice in preparing for the season, but Stephens said Williams will always be in their minds.

“We are trying to go on and do the things we have to do to prepare for the season,” Stephens said. “But Rashad is always in our thoughts and ourprayers. The team responded well, but he is always on their minds.”Stephens said Williams is a player who is a joy to coach.

“He is a great kid, a super kid,” Stephens said. “He has never been in troublein school. He worked hard in the summer and the offseason program to getready for his senior year. He was a definite college prospect and was readyfor a great senior season.”Roydell Williams, who played with Rashad Williams last year before graduating and going on to Tulane, said Williams was a good teammate and player.

“He was a pretty good player,” Roydell Williams said. “I know they are hurtinglike I’m hurting.”Stephens said the whole community of Thibodaux has taken heart to Williams, from the hospital and hotel staffs to the police department and Nicholls State staff.

“There are a lot of people pulling for him and praying for him,” Stephens said. “That is helping the family. The people out there have been great.”

Return To News Stories