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[UPDATED IV] BREAKING...Stafon Johnson Injured in weight room accident

I just caught this on ESPN...

Tailback Stafon Johnson was rushed to the hospital after dropping a weight on his throat in the weight room.The injury caused Johnson to start coughing up blood...He was subsequently rushed to the hospital.

That is all there is right now. When I hear more I will update this story.

Please send your thoughts and prayers his way!

OK...we are going with the latest update first going forward...

UPDATE IV...From the LAT...

USC running back Stafon Johnson is still in surgery at California Hospital Medical Center near downtown. His condition was "critical but stable" as of about 7:20 tonight, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Friends and family of Johnson have gathered at the hospital, waiting for him to return from surgery which began about five hours ago.

Johnson was injured this morning while lifting weights at the school.

The senior from Dorsey High was just starting a set of bench press lifts when he apparently lost control of the bar and it landed on his neck. He was reportedly spitting up blood and was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where surgery began sometime around 2 p.m., according to family friend John Eatman, a former high school teammate.

Eatman was among about a dozen friends and family members gathered in hospital waiting room this evening. "Right now we don't know anything," Eatman said. "We're just hoping he's all right."

Johnson's mother, Kim Mallory, was at the hospital but declined comment through a family spokesperson.

I caught this on WeAreSC as well. Here is some pertinent info on Neck Trauma...

We obviously don't know just yet exactly what's going on with Stafon, but as a surgeon who's done his share of trauma surgery, let me make a couple of observations about trauma to the neck.

First of all -- the thing that every ER doctor and Surgeon is most concerned about -- is airway compromise. If there is any possibility at all that the injury will cause difficulty breathing -- an endotracheal tube is put in, or an emergency tracheostomy is done. It just doesn't make any sense at all to take any chances, since it only takes a few minutes of not breathing to cause permanent damage.

Second -- while CT scans and MRI's are fine and dandy -- if there is any question at all about significant damage, a neck exploration is the absolute best thing to do. This is a little bit more true for penetrating injury than for blunt injury -- but nothing beats being able to inspect every last structure in the neck yourself.

Third -- If there has not been any brain damage from having the airway compromised, as a general rule people with blunt neck injury will make a complete recover. Now they may take some time recovering from surgery, and they may have a temporary tracheostomy, but they will recover.

Fourth -- the thing after the airway that would cause the most concern is the carotid arteries. Blunt injury to those arteries can cause what's called intimal flaps that can cause clots and strokes. This is probably not the case with the injury mechanism described, but it is a concern anyway.

Fifth -- if we discover that Stafon has had a neck exploration and found to have a fractured thyroid cartilage and has a tracheostomy -- it means his surgeons have probably did a superb job taking care of him, and he should make a rapid recovery.

Earlier updates after the jump...

UPDATE I...This is from RipsIt.

Tailback Stafon Johnson suffered a throat injury while weightlifting Monday morning and is undergoing surgery this afternoon.

Johnson, a senior from Compton, was bench-pressing with a spotter in Heritage Hall's weight room when the bar slipped out of his right hand and fell at an angle onto his throat. USC's athletic trainers and emergency personnel rushed to the scene, and Johnson was taken to a local hospital, where he's currently undergoing surgery on his throat.

"It was an unfortunate accident and Stafon is getting great care right now," Coach Pete Carroll said. "We don't have a lot of information at this point and we'll keep everyone updated, but our thoughts and prayers are with Stafon."

Head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, who was within 10 feet of the incident, said he was shocked something like this could happen.

"I've seen players have the bar slip and fall onto their chest, but never in my 25 years of coaching have I heard of someone dropping a bar on their throat," Carlisle said. "We're fortunate he was being spotted."

The bench press is commonly regarded as one of the safest exercises in the weight room, especially with a spotter, Carlisle said. An assistant strength and conditioning coach was spotting Johnson this morning.

Johnson's recovery time from surgery is unknown at this time.

UPDATE II...check out this post from an ENT Surgeon (Ear Nose and Throat) from

I'm board certified in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and also in Facial Plastic Surgery. I've seen dozens of these type of injuries over the years. First of all, we should be grateful he is alive and that apparently there are no neurologic problems (stroke, spinal cord injury). He faces potentially a very long road ahead. Bleeding indicates a break in the laryngeal or tracheal mucosa, and generally this is due to fracture of the cartilages. In young people, the cartilage isn't calcified and it gives quite alot. But it can break. Emergent surgery of this nature is usually due to one of two things- impending airway compromise (due to an expanding hematoma- collection of blood, collapse of airway, or even laryngeal nerve injury, or laryngeal-tracheal separation). In that case they will do a tracheostomy, probably with the patient 100% awake (these are not fun for the surgeon or the patient- I did three last month).

The other reason for surgery is to perform laryngofissure. The neck is opened up, and the broken laryngeal cartilage (if fractured) is repaired with sutures and titanium microplates. Rarely do you know the injury ahead of time, as these patients are in extremis, and a CT scan is risky (loosing an airway and trach'ing a patient in the CT scanner is extremely unpleasant).

Johnson has a long road ahead...

UPDATE III...Check out this brief video of Pete Carroll discussing Johnson's injury...