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Boy, 12, Killed by Hockey Puck

December 7, 2000

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A 12-year-old boy died after being struck on the back of the neck by a hockey puck, officials said.

Quinn Connally, who would have been 13 next week, was injured Monday night during practice. The puck apparently struck him between his shoulder pads and helmet, injuring his brain stem, police said.

He died Tuesday at Baystate Medical Center.

``It was a freak accident,″ said Paul Chojnowski, the boy’s uncle. ``It could not be predicted.″

He said the doctor, who had never heard of a similar case, told the family that the puck ruptured two arteries that run through the spine, causing internal bleeding.

Quinn’s parents, Stephen and Ann Connally, decided to donate the boy’s organs, Chojnowski said. ``His heart is working for a 34-year-old guy today.″

Sister Jacqueline Kazanowski, principal of St. Stanislaus school, where Quinn was a student, said the children were ``in a state of shock.″

``We all prayed yesterday afternoon,″ she said. ``I think young people have difficulty really believing that injuries can be so final. But, at the same time you have to assure them that something like this is a very rare event. You don’t want children to be afraid and quit sports.″

Connally, a seventh-grader, was practicing with a ``travel team,″ which includes different age groups and is not affiliated with a school.

There were two fatalities and five serious injuries in high school ice hockey between 1982 and 1998, the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury said.

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