Rugger critical after game

BLOOMINGDALE – A man who suffered a blow to the head during a championship game in the Can-Am Rugby Tournament Sunday is still listed in critical condition today at a hospital in Burlington, Vermont, but he is reportedly now conscious.

Dan Nelson, 57, of Center Moriches, Long Island, was a member of the Brookport Doggies team, which was playing the Connecticut Grey team on the field behind the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department. It was the championship game for the over-45-year-old men’s division.

“He’s in the hospital, but just to ease everyone’s mind,” Can-Am Tournament Director Jay Annis said Monday afternoon, “I normally wouldn’t comment. … I don’t want to comment on any medical conditions, but I just received a call from his best friend, and (Nelson’s) first two words are, ‘Did we win?’ and, ‘Where am I?’ and he’s making jokes.”

Nelson’s Brockport team did win, but he wasn’t conscious to see it. He took a serious blow to the head during the game, which appeared to cause the injury, according to state police spokeswoman Jennifer Fleishman.

“His head struck the chest and knee of a player on the opposite team, causing him to fall to the ground unresponsive,” Fleishman said.

The first emergency call came in to authorities at 11:37 a.m. Fleishman said Nelson was thought to be dead.

Fleishman said Nelson was given CPR on the field, and then the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad transported him to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. He was later flown via North Country Life Flight helicopter to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. He remained unresponsive during transport all the way to Burlington, Fleishman said.

As of 9 a.m. today, a Fletcher Allen spokeswoman said his condition remained critical.

State police who responded to the scene Sunday questioned witnesses to the incident, including players, which Fleishman said is routine in such a case.

“I think there was a concern that the man could have lost his life, so we would investigate in the event of that kind of serious medical instance,” Fleishman said.

Sunday was the final day of the rugby tournament, which started Thursday with wheelchair rugby at North Country Community College. The official tournament kicked off Friday and continued through the weekend. It attracted more than 100 teams, with players from throughout the United States and Canada participating.

The championship game was one of several played on the Bloomingdale field Sunday.