Massive internal bleeding from a lacerated spleen caused the death of the 17-year-old New Jersey high school quarterback who collapsed after taking a hit on the field Friday night, the medical examiner's office confirmed Monday.
Morris County Medical Examiner Ronald Suarez ruled the cause of death for Warren Hills Regional High School's Evan Murray was massive intra-abdominal hemorrhage caused by the lacerated spleen. Suarez found the spleen was abnormally enlarged, which made it more susceptible to injury.
There was no evidence of head trauma or heart disease, and Murray's death was ruled an accident, according to the medical examiner's office.
Murray walked off the field with the help of some teammates after being hit in the backfield during a game and collapsed on the sidelines a short time later.
Murray felt "woozy" after the tackle but tried reassuring his teammates he would be fine as he was lifted on a gurney and taken to a hospital, witnesses told the Daily News.
"He tried giving a thumbs-up to the rest of the team, and all of us cheered," said Kaitlin Bell, 16, a junior varsity cheerleader. "Our coach was telling us he was going to be all right. We didn't expect anything would happen."
The three-sport athlete, who had been the team's starting quarterback for three years, died at a hospital.
A statement from interim Superintendent Gary Bowen said the school community is "deeply saddened" by his death. Bowen declined to take questions from reporters Saturday, saying a cause of death has not yet been determined. Authorities said an autopsy was planned.
His wake will be held Wednesday at Safe Discovery Church in Washington Township. A funeral will be on Thursday at the church.
Hundreds of people, including Murray's teammates and coaches, gathered at the high school Saturday for a memorial gathering. Attendees left bouquets and handwritten cards, many expressing their grief and disbelief over what had happened.
On Monday, the parking space that Murray usually used was filled with balloons and flowers. His name and uniform number -- 18 -- were written in chalk on the space. Grief counselors have been at the school since Saturday and will remain there as needed.
The district canceled its junior varsity football game that was scheduled for Monday. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the New York Jets are among dozens of people and groups from around the country who have posted condolences on social media regarding Murray's death.