US college star seriously injured in weights accident.
September 30, 2009 - 1:42PM
An US college gridiron star was recovering in hospital on Tuesday from seven hours of emergency surgery following a weight-lifting accident at the University of Southern California.
USC Trojans running back Stafon Johnson was listed in critical but stable condition after having his throat crushed by a weight bar on Monday.
The 21-year-old American was lying on his back doing a series of bench presses in the gym when the bar slipped out of his hands and landed on his neck, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Johnson, who leads the Trojans in touchdowns with five, was spitting up blood through his mouth and nose after the incident and was rushed to California Hospital Medical Center for surgery.
"This is a very tight program and a very tight team. Stafon's been a spiritual leader and a leader on the field in all ways for a long time here and a beloved guy. So this is something that does affect you. We all will feel it for some time," USC head coach Carroll told the Times.
Johnson is expected to survive the ordeal but will have to undergo extensive therapy to get his speech back.
Carroll said that doctors told him that Johnson would be able to play football again, although, probably not for the Trojans. Johnson, who has carried the ball 32 times for 157 yards this season, is in his senior, or final, year of US college.
"It was just an absolute accident. It just hit him wrong, and he's had obvious consequences," Carroll said. "This guy is an expert lifter. He just lost control of the bar on his first rep of his last set and it dropped on him."
Johnson's complex surgery involved realigning his larynx.
"None of us really think about what's going on in your throat," Carroll said. "But from the things that control speech and breathing and digestion and all of the different issues, everything got affected to some extent. So it's hard to imagine what the doctors were working with to try to get everything back and reconstructed the way it needs to be.
"Because he's so fit and so strong and handled it so well, they were able to continue to do all of the intricate stuff that they had to do. Now we have to wait to see how everything hooks back up, really is what it amounts to."
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