Police in Ohio said Wednesday they probably won't file criminal charges against a Lexington Catholic High School hockey player in connection with a serious injury to another player in a game last weekend.
Detective Paul Markowski of the Kettering Police Department said that after talking with referees in the game he could determine no criminal liability in connection with the play that injured Kyle Cannon, 14.
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Cannon suffered broken vertebra in his neck and had some lingering paralysis after the incident Sunday.
"It's a tragedy; we're all sorry something like this happened. But it was a sporting event," Markowski said in a telephone interview.
"There is a certain risk any time someone steps into an arena. But to make someone criminally culpable ... it has to go beyond the scope of committing a foul."
Cannon was playing for his school, Oregon Clay High near Toledo, when he was injured Sunday during a hockey tournament game against Lexington Catholic at Kettering Recreation Complex. Kettering is a suburb of Dayton.
The Lexington player's name was not released.
According to the Toledo Blade newspaper, Cannon and the Lexington Catholic player were scrambling for the puck when Cannon was hit from behind and sent crashing into the boards. The newspaper said Cannon lost all feeling below his neck and was unable to move afterward, although he later regained some sensation in his arms.
Cannon underwent surgery at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, the Toledo newspaper said.
Lexington Catholic issued a statement expressing sadness at Cannon's injury.
"Though there was no malicious intent on the part of our player, both he and the entire LCHS hockey team feel great remorse for the injured player and family as they deal with this tragic accident," Lexington Catholic said. "Our heartfelt prayers go out to Kyle Cannon and his family during this difficult time."
Referees working the game assessed a penalty against the Lexington Catholic player on the play.
Cannon's family filed a complaint with Kettering police afterward. But Markowski said his investigation turned up no evidence that would support criminal charges.
"In order for an incident in a sporting event to rise to the level of a crime there has to be some kind of smoking gun, something way out of the ordinary," he said. "What the officials working the game told me is that even if there were a penalty in high school hockey for intent to cause injury, they would not have used it in this case."