Less than two days after leading Independence High to a dramatic 21-19 season-opening victory over Clovis North, Falcons quarterback Tyler Schilhabel suffered an ATV accident Sunday, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down at Stanford Hospital, the Bakersfield Californian reported.
Schilhabel, a 16-year-old junior, was in surgery early Monday to repair spinal-cord injuries. Independence coach Sean McKeown said doctors needed 36 hours after surgery to allow swelling to subside before they could re-evaluate.
"The long-term prognosis is uncertain -- and I'd like to stress uncertain, because it's not confirmed one way or another -- but as of right now, Tyler is paralyzed from the chest down," McKeown said Monday morning. "The next 36 hours [are] crucial to his recovery."
McKeown said Schilhabel remained in Stanford's intensive care unit in a medically induced coma. His family, including older brother Drew, a senior running back and linebacker for Independence, were with him.
McKeown said he was told doctors "said it looked a lot better than they originally thought" after surgery.
The accident occurred Sunday at Pismo Beach around 3 p.m., a spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department said.
Michael Lack, a supervising state park peace officer, said the accident occurred in the main riding area of Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, which is part of the state parks system. Park rangers, lifeguards and search-and-rescue crews responded. The victim was believed to have head and neck injuries, Lack said.
Schilhabel initially was taken by ground ambulance to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, he said.
Friday, a year after Independence lost 63-0 to Clovis North, Schilhabel passed for 241 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 51 yards and another score. Both schools will graduate their first senior classes in the spring.
McKeown said Schilhabel carries a 3.8 grade-point average and is a campus leader who serves as commissioner of school spirit.
"I'm devastated," McKeown said. "Tyler is a great human being, first and foremost. I couldn't think of a better person, a better student, a better friend, a better teammate in my 11 years of coaching."
The Falcons practiced Monday morning and plan to play their home game Friday night against Ridgeview, wearing "No. 8" stickers on their helmets in honor of Schilhabel.