Tragedy strikes alumni tourney
MOUNT CARMEL - What began as a celebration of Mount Carmel Area football Sunday afternoon ended in tragedy when one of the players involved in an alumni tournament at the Silver Bowl suffered a heart attack and died.
Dan Malakoski went down on the sideline early in the first half of the opening game of the four-team flag football fundraiser. He received almost immediate medical attention from ambulance personnel on site.
Initially not breathing, Malakoski was revived on the sideline and taken by ambulance to Mount Carmel Area High School, where Geisinger's Life Flight helicopter later landed. However, he never made it aboard.
"He was conscious and communicating when he left the field," said Greg Sacavage, Mount Carmel Area athletic director. "From the stadium to the high school, he went into cardiac arrest. He was not taken by Life Flight."
Malakoski was a 1997 Mount Carmel Area graduate, Sacavage said.
The seven-on-seven tournament was coordinated to raise funds for Mount Carmel Area's 2014 ThinkBIG Dance Marathon, which helps the families of children who receive treatment at the Janet Weis Children's Hospital in Danville.
The event continued after Malakoski was taken from the stadium, but was halted after the semifinal games when word of Malakoski's death reached the stadium.
"They did not play the final," Sacavage said, "and that was absolutely the right thing to do.
"The teams got together at the end in the field house and had a moment of prayer. It was truly a family atmosphere. One of their own was lost."