School district promises safety review after football player dies from game injury

BURIEN, Wash. – The Highline School District promises a safety review after a high school football player died from head injuries he got in a game Friday night.

Football players met up after school Monday, not for practice or even a team meeting but to mourn one of their own.

“The initial shock of any sudden death is always the worst, especially if it's unexpected,” parent Keith Lionetti said.

Senior defensive back Kenney Bui went down with a severe head injury in the fourth quarter during a game Friday night at Highline Memorial Stadium.

After emergency surgery and a weekend in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center, the 17-year-old lost the battle.

“It is a very sad day here at Highline. It's heartbreaking,” Highline Public Schools spokesperson Catherine Carbone Rogers said.

Teachers and students heard the news at school Monday.

“The way that the students rallied around one another, particularly the football team circling up, praying together, offering words of encouragement to one another, and just really living into that huddle of what a football team does,” Evergreen girls basketball coach and pastor Natasha Hicks McCray said.

School leaders knew their students needed an immediate outlet and held a private candlelight vigil Monday.

"An opportunity for students to be together, the staff to be together, for the team to be together, and to just grieve and mourn and for them to share stories about Kenney,” Hicks McCray added.

The school district has released no information about how the injury occurred, but Bui reportedly got hurt making a tackle.

The district said it takes a strong stance on football safety, with three trainers on staff and that all coaches and volunteers go through in-depth training .

“Safety protocols that cover heat and hydration, sudden cardiac arrest, proper equipment fit, and proper blocking and tackling techniques,” Carbone Rogers said from her office Monday.

For now, football practice has been canceled, and so has Friday night’s game. No decisions have been made yet on changing any safety protocols.

“What we're concentrating on today is just supporting our students and staff who are grieving and really hurting. We'll have a conversation about reviews, and other changes that might be down the road, we'll have that another day,” Carbone Rogers explained

Counselors will be on hand at school each day as long as the students need them.

No word yet on when a safety review will take place.