Ethan Herman was a remarkable young man. He was a handsome, gifted student and athlete at Chaska Middle School West. He had accomplished more in his 12 years than most people do in their lifetime.
Ethan’s room is filled with trophies, medals and plaques. He was a captain on the middle school wrestling team. He was a state champion wrestler, wrestling all over the state and in national tournaments. As a football player, he was a dominant force on the team scoring 17 touchdowns last fall. He also played in the middle linebacker position. In baseball, Ethan played 3rd base, pitched, and was an outstanding hitter. His team played in Cooperstown, NY, last summer.
Ethan loved archery and to bow hunt. He was a state 3D Archery State Champ. He was 4 years old when he harvested his first rabbit. By the time he was 12, he had harvested 3 deer, one of which is entered in the Pope & Young record book. Ethan also loved to pheasant hunt with his dog, Jake.
Besides being a great athlete, he was very intelligent, popular with his peers, a role model, rode dirt bike and 4-wheelers, drove remote control cars, loved to draw, and watched movies with his family. He believed in God and attended church and Faith Formation classes regularly.
On November 20th, 2010, Ethan was in a wrestling tournament. He had 3 matches that day. During the second match, he hit his head on the mat. He laid there for a while until the coach came out to him. He got up, shook it off, and finished his match. Nobody realized that he had a concussion until he started complaining of headaches the next day.
Ethan did not participate in practices, as his headaches continued. Ibuprofen seemed to help. He first saw a doctor on November 29th, 2010. He gave Ethan a couple of simple tests and said to call him if the headaches continued through the weekend. Ethan went in for a CT scan on December 8th, 2010. The doctor said it was negative except for two dark spots in his sinus area. Ethan had a head cold, so the doctor prescribed amoxicillin in case he had a sinus infection. The next step was to get an MRI. The doctor made an appointment for January 25th, 2011. Ethan’s mother tried to get an appointment sooner with 4 other clinics. Three clinics didn’t return calls and the 4th one wouldn’t make the appointment unless Ethan was having seizures.
Ethan was taking his medicine, and his headaches were less often and milder. He then said he wasn’t having any more. He wanted to start practice again. The week of December 13th, 2010, Ethan practiced with no live wrestling.
On December 18th, 2010, there was a team tournament. Ethan wrestled two matches that day for a total of about 3 minutes combined with no problems. He participated in 3 more practices on the December 20, 21, and 22nd. Then Christmas break began, which meant no more wrestling until January.
Christmas came, and Ethan was in good spirits and had a good attitude. On December 30th, 2010, a traumatic thing happened to him – his girlfriend broke up with him. He wrote on Facebook and told everyone goodbye. One of his friends asked where he was going, and he replied, “To heaven.” That afternoon he took his own life.
His funeral was held in a large church that was completely full. The basement and mezzanine had standing room only. If Ethan only knew how many lives he had touched and the effect of taking his own life would have on his family and friends.
No one noticed any signs of depression, but he must have been hurting. No one would have guessed this would ever happen to him. Ethan was such a great role model. A lot of his peers wanted to be like him.
I don’t know why Ethan did this; 12 year old boys don’t do this. Was it the concussion that caused depression in him? If it was, why weren’t the doctors more concerned? Was it a bad, snap decision? He never talked of death or suicide. I spent a lot of time with Ethan, gave him a lot of opportunities, he grasped them all and overachieved. This wasn’t my boy who had did this to himself. He was so special. Our lives will never be the same without him. We miss him more than I could ever express.
One of our family’s close friends did some research on concussions on the internet. She found a site called Corey Bischof Memorial. These two young men were very similar in a lot of ways. I think there isn’t enough information on concussions and most people don’t realize how serious they can be or how they can affect each individual.