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Pop Warner Player Donnovan Hill Paralyzed by Hit During Game, Dies

Hill Used Dangerous Headfirst Tackling Technique Encouraged by Coaches

Donnovan Hill who was paralyzed by a hit during a game in 2011 has died, according to an article published by The Los Angeles Times.

As written by the Associated Press, Hill was 18 when he died Wednesday, May 11, at an Orange County hospital of complications from surgery related to management of his injury.

The victim was 13 when he fractured his spine during a 2011 Pop Warner championship game in Laguna Hills. He was left paralyzed, with minimal use of his arms and no independent movement below his chest.

As per the article, Hill and his mother testified in a 2014 lawsuit against the youth league that the teen executed a dangerous headfirst tackling technique promoted by his coaches.

The suit alleged that Hill was punished after opposing to the technique in practice and that he applied it in games with no repercussions. The head coach, Sal Hernandez, claimed he warned Hill against using the technique, but assistant coach Manny Martinez allegedly defended its use.

The lawsuit showed the lack of safety protections for Pop Warner players.

A report by ESPN said Hill reached a seven-figure settlement with Pop Warner in January. The case paved the way for another multi-million-dollar settlement filed a month later by a Wisconsin family.

The family said their son, who killed himself at age 25, suffered from a lack of protections provided by Pop Warner.


Johnson Attorneys Group’s most heartfelt condolences and prayers remain with the family members and all friends of Donnovan Hill. We hope they are brought peace and comfort at this time.

Losing a loved one suddenly is devastating for any family to endure, especially when that loved one’s life is taken as a result of someone else’s negligence. If the responsible party has disregarded the safety of others and has led to the death of a family member or close friend, it is likely you may have the right to a wrongful death lawsuit. If your loved one has been a victim of a tragic incident and you believe another person is at fault, we urge you to contact Johnson Attorneys Group today to speak with one of our experienced lawyers at 800-235-6801. Let us help you.

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