Ruptured blood vessel in heart killed Toledo center

Updated: October 10, 2006, 7:39 PM ET
Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Toledo center Haris Charalambous died during conditioning because a blood vessel to his heart ruptured, according to preliminary autopsy results released Tuesday.

The rupture of Charalambous' aortic arch on Monday caused blood to fill the sac around his heart and stopped it from beating, said Dr. James Patrick, Lucas County coroner.

Such a rupture is a well known cause of sudden death, Patrick said. Several weeks of further testing is needed to determine why the rupture occurred.

"Even though the emergency response -- what our trainers did was great -- once the heart can't pump blood because of pressure around it, there's just not a very good likelihood that he is going to live," said Dr. Roger Kruse, team physician.

Players had just started their workout Monday and were doing some light running when Charalambous collapsed. Trainers performed CPR less than a minute after he collapsed, and 911 was called immediately, university officials said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

"Nothing can prepare you for this," athletic director Mike O'Brien said. "I'm still in a state of shock. Our student-athletes, our athletic department staff and our entire campus [have] been stunned by this tragedy."

The 21-year-old Charalambous, of Manchester, England, was expected to be a backup center this season. He played 23 games last season, averaging less than a point per game.

"The players are devastated. They're very emotional, losing a teammate and one of our basketball family members," coach Stan Joplin said. "Haris is the ultimate team player. He was well liked by all of his teammates. He was a great person to be around."

A memorial service was scheduled on campus Wednesday. University officials planned to accompany Charalambous's body back to England later this week to personally express their condolences to his family.

An endowment in his name will be established to award a scholarship annually to a member of the men's basketball team, the school said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press