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Coroner: Air Force cadet’s death likely linked to rare football injury

The Air Force Academy cadet who died on his way to class last month suffered a blood clot stemming from a rare foot injury he suffered weeks earlier, according to an El Paso County coroner’s report.
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Posted at 3:14 PM, Feb 03, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Air Force Academy cadet who died on his way to class last month suffered a blood clot stemming from a rare foot injury he suffered weeks earlier, according to an El Paso County coroner’s report.

Hunter Brown, a 21-year-old offensive lineman on the Air Force football team, died following a “medical emergency” he suffered while leaving his dorm on Jan. 9.

The coroner’s report says Brown died of “pulmonary thromboembolism due to deep vein thrombosis resulting from Lisfranc injury of the left lower extremity.”

Here’s what that means in Layman’s terms:

Weeks before his death, Brown suffered a ligament injury in his Lisfranc joint – the area where bones in the foot connect near the midfoot. The Lisfranc injury caused blood clotting in the veins of his lower leg, which led to a blood clot in his lung.

The Mayo Clinic describes the potential complications from deep vein thrombosis like this:

“Deep vein thrombosis can be serious because blood clots in the veins can break loose. The clots can then travel through the bloodstream and get stuck in the lungs, blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism). When DVT and pulmonary embolism occur together, it's called venous thromboembolism (VTE).”

Lisfranc injuries are relatively uncommon, happening to one in 55,000 Americans and accounting for just 0.2% of broken bone injuries, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Officials at the time of Brown’s death said life-saving measures were attempted, but unsuccessful.

Brown, a Cadet 3rd Class – the Air Force classification for sophomores – played center for the academy’s football team. He played high school football in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

"Our players, staff and entire Academy have been so blessed and fortunate to have Hunter as a part of our lives. He was a pure joy to coach and have as a teammate," said Troy Calhoun, head football coach. "He was tough, a great worker, and no one unselfishly pulled harder for others than Hunter."

Brown graduated from the Air Force Academy Preparatory School in May 2021 and was pursuing a major in management, the academy stated.


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