Quince Orchard student dies after fight on basketball court; death investigation underway

Courtesy: Larry and Candy Terry (parents of Tyler Terry)

A 12th-grade star athlete at Quince Orchard High School student died this weekend following a physical altercation at a neighborhood basketball court.

On Monday, Jan. 29, around 7:50 a.m., Montgomery County Fire and Rescue crews were called to the asphalt court along Timber Rock Road in Gaithersburg. There they found Tyler Terry, 17, on the ground in a state of cardiac arrest.

According to Montgomery County Police, two rival groups arranged a meeting with plans for individuals to fight one-on-one. Terry and an adult male fought first. Although their physical scuffle lasted around two to three minutes, investigators claim Terry had "minimal physical contact."

“I looked out my window and I saw this large group," said an eyewitness who preferred not to share his name. "They were fighting. You know, just punching on another, slugging it out.”

Police said Terry forfeited his portion of the fight and immediately began to exhibit signs of physical exhaustion. During the next five to ten minutes, two additional one-on-one confrontations took place on the court. During the third pairing, Terry fell to the ground and grew unresponsive. At least one person called 911. Several other teens captured all three clashes, plus Terry's sudden collapse on cell phone video, which investigators have reviewed.

“There were about 15 to 20 teens in total," the eyewitness said. "The police administered CPR, put him on the stretcher and wheeled him out. I saw the [IV] drips as they were hauling him out."

Paramedics transported Terry to Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville. He was later airlifted to Children's National Medical Center in D.C. where he stayed in the intensive care unit (ICU) until his death on Sunday, 13 days after the basketball court brawl.

Authorities said medical staff conducted a variety of tests at the hospital and determined Terry did not sustain any injuries during the fight. Instead, doctors explain the 17-year-old had a cardiac episode, possibly connected to a "pre-existing medical condition," which his parents, Larry and Candy, described to ABC7 as "heart arrhythmia."

RELATED: Community mourns unforeseen death of Quince Orchard student-athlete

A spokesman for the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office confirmed his agency has the authority to order an autopsy and/or toxicology report in an open death investigation case, regardless of the wishes of immediate family members. As of Monday evening, the prosecutorial agency had not determined if it would utilize that executive power in Terry's case.

Despite a number of prevalent rumors, authorities have not officially stated what sparked the planned mid-morning altercation. No criminal charges have been filed either.

Terry was a standout linebacker and tight end on the Quince Orchard High School varsity football team. He helped the team secure a 13-2 record in 2017, and a second consecutive appearance in the state final.

On Monday, a large number of students and staff wore red clothing in honor of the late student. Red not only is Quince Orchard's school colors, but also represents many heart health organizations, including the American Heart Association. A team of psychologists, counselors and pupil personnel workers were also on hand for people requiring emotional support.

"For those of you who knew Tyler, we ask that you remember and celebrate his passion for football, his love of his family and friends, and his great big infectious smile," Quince Orchard High School principal Carole Working said in a robocall to student families Sunday.

In December, Terry committed to Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, where he planned to play on the school's football team. Terry's parents say their son had secured a full athletic scholarship and planned to major in accounting.

“Words cannot express the sorrow that we feel for [the family's] loss," Monmouth head football coach Kevin Callahan said in a written statement. "We are proud to say that Tyler will always be a Monmouth Hawk."

Standing in their dimly lit living room, Terry's parents described their son as a "quiet, laid-back young man" who loved his friends, playing Madden NFL video games and pickup basketball. Terry was born and raised in Montgomery County. He attended Gaithersburg High School as a freshman, and a portion of his sophomore year, before transferring to Quince Orchard.

Terry leaves behind a vast community of family – most notably his mother, father, two sisters and a young nephew – friends and athletic teammates. Funeral services are still pending.

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