Inquest: Father pays tribute to 'hero' son Evan Hawksworth who died after rugby match tackle

Evan Hawksworth
Evan Hawksworth
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The father of a teenager who died after suffering a serious head injury during a rugby match has described his son as an "inspiration to everyone".

Fourteen-year-old Evan Hawksworth collapsed after a tackle during a junior rugby league game last July, an inquest was told today. Despite doctors' best efforts, he died two days later.

In a statement read to Wakefield Coroner's Court, Evan's father Gary Hawksworth said his son was an outstanding pupil at Rodillian Academy in Lofthouse, who was predicted to get the best grades in all his subjects.

He was also a top sports player, achieving the highest grades in martial arts by the age of just ten, before turning his hand to Rugby Union and later Rugby League.

"Evan was an inspiration to everyone he met and we wouldn't have ever wanted to change him," Mr Hawksworth's statement said. "He was our hero."

Mr Hawksworth was present in court to hear his statement read aloud. As he exited, he paused to embrace a doctor who helped to treat Evan in his last moments, and sobbed.

Evan, who lived in Robin Hood, was playing for Stanley Rangers ARLFC in a match against Batley Boys on Sunday, July 9 last year, the inquest was told.

About 20 minutes into the second half, he went in to tackle a player in the opposing team and fell to the ground.

He stood up, but collapsed to the floor again and an ambulance was called.

In a statement to the inquest, Daniel Watson, a paramedic with Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said on arrival at the scene, he was told by a bystander that there had been a tackle and that Evan had hit his head, but "no one had seen clearly what had happened".

He said that Evan was alert when he was initially assessed, and told paramedics his head hurt and he had lost his vision but it was returning.

Paramedics examined him and recommended he was seen at A&E at Pinderfields Hospital. Mr Hawksworth volunteered to take him there, the court was told.

On arrival at hospital, Evan vomited and fell unconscious. He was transferred to the resuscitation room before being taken by blue light ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary.

Consultant in pediatric care at LGI Dr Sundararajan told the inquest that Evan underwent surgery to try to stop bleeding in his brain and relieve pressure in the area.

But, "the damage was already done" he said.

A decision was made to withdraw treatment and offer palliative care, and Evan died at 4.28pm on Tuesday, July 11.

In medical terms, the cause of his death was given as a severe traumatic brain injury.

Coroner Jonathan Leach said: "Evan was very talented in all areas of life. He was a very talented sports player of all types, and since being introduced to the sport, was a very keen Rugby League player.

"Such was his ability and popularity that he was awarded the players' player of the year award in 2016-17 and he was a valued member of the team."

Concluding his death was an accident, Mr Leach said Evan died of injuries sustained when he tackled a player.

"There's no suggestion that the injuries were sustained in anything other than an accident," he said.

A statement issued by Evan's family through the RFL Benevolent Fund read: "Evan was a beautiful young man and much loved by his family.

"The family would like to thank all his friends and the wider rugby community for their continuing support.

"We do not blame anyone for his death and his passing was as a result of a rare, tragic accident.

"Everyone misses him very much. Evan was our inspiration and still is. He will be remembered and loved forever."