Father of teenage rugby player who broke his neck praises club officials who saved him from being paralysed

Jarrovians Colts team manager Suzanne Etchells and first aider Eleanor Peggie with rugby player Karl Mann after the accident.
Jarrovians Colts team manager Suzanne Etchells and first aider Eleanor Peggie with rugby player Karl Mann after the accident.

The father of a teenage rugby player who broke his neck during a match has praised two quick-thinking club officials who rushed to his son’s aid.

Karl Mann was playing for Hartlepool RFC U-17s in a match against Jarrovians Colts when he was severely injured in a collapsed scrum.

Hartlepool RFC U-17s player Karl Mann, in front of referee, during the game.

Hartlepool RFC U-17s player Karl Mann, in front of referee, during the game.

The accident happened in the last five minutes of the match on Sunday, November 4, in Hartlepool, leaving 16-year-old Karl motionless on the ground.

Jarrovians Colts team manager Suzanne Etchells, 49, and first aider Eleanor Peggie, 20, both from South Shields, phoned an ambulance and held his head to ensure it didn’t move.

The college student from Dyke House, was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital of North Tees, where he had an X-ray and a CT scan.

Doctors found that he had fractured two vertebrae in his neck, with the C4 protruding over the C5, putting pressure on his spinal cord.

He was transferred to the spinal unit at the James Cook University Hospital and operated on the next morning.

He now has had two titanium plates in his neck and is undergoing physiotherapy.

Dad Tony Mann, 51, of Dyke House, Harlepool, said his son had been ‘very lucky’.

He said: “I was just spectating when, in the last few minutes of the match, he went into a scrum and it collapsed.

“The first aiders went across and it was clear he had suffered a serious injury. He had pins and needles and couldn’t feel anything other than his right arm.

“An ambulance came and took him to hospital and he was operated on the next morning.

“He has now been discharged and is back home. He is now undergoing physio and has to go back to see a specialist on December 19.

“He has a little bit of weakness in his left arm, but he is nearly 100% again. He has been very lucky, as he could have been paralysed.

“The two first aiders were absolutely fabulous. We went up to Jarrow to say ‘thank you’ to them.”

Although Karl’s playing career is over, he has decided to take up coaching and refereeing.