May 27, 2018
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NY mother learns of son’s football death online

The Associated Press

HOMER, N.Y — A mother who learned on Facebook that her son had died of a head injury during a high school football game believes authorities should do a better job notifying people during emergencies.

Jacqueline Barden, of Oswego, told WSYR-TV in Syracuse that she got the news about her 16-year-old son after a Friday night game a couple of weeks ago and tried to learn more while waiting to hear from officials, which didn’t happen until the next day.

“On Facebook, on the news, that’s how I had to learn of my son’s death,” Barden said. “We waited all the way up until the next day and still got no phone calls.”

Her son, Ridge Barden, was hurt in a helmet-to-helmet collision while playing as a lineman for John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, about 90 minutes south of Oswego. An autopsy showed he died of a subdural hematoma, a gathering of blood on the brain’s surface, after being taken to a local hospital.

Coaches at the Oct. 14 game had contact telephone numbers provided by the family for only the boy’s grandmother and father, who lives in the district, school Superintendent Judy Belfield said Friday.

“At the football game, we had no information about the mom,” Belfield said. “We feel very badly that Mrs. Barden learned about this on Facebook.”

She stressed that families should keep emergency contact information up-to-date.

Cortland County coroner Kevin Sharp, who said he explained to Jacqueline Barden that authorities at death scenes often must deal with families providing only limited information, said his “heart goes out to” her.

“We just don’t have time,” he said, “to search out the family tree.”


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