A smile and a glance has never meant so much to those who know and
love Andrew Castillo.
Castillo, a junior football player from San Gabriel Gabrielino
High who was injured in a game against Burbank, has come out of a
three-month coma and is showing signs of recovery.
Dana McCune, an attorney for the San Gabriel Unified School
District, said Castillo’s condition is continuing to improve.
“He is showing signs of cognitive function,” McCune said. “There
have been things like putting thumbs up or thumbs down.”
Since the incident, the Castillo family has clung to the belief
the 16-year-old would come out of the coma, despite signs of limited
“Everyone is hoping he is on the road to recovery,” McCune said.
Castillo’s injury happened during the fourth week of the 2002
football season, when Gabrielino played in a nonleague game against
Burbank at Memorial Field.
With 10:45 left in the contest, Castillo walked off the field
complaining of head pain. He then collapsed on the sideline, lost
consciousness and stopped breathing.
Castillo, who was playing linebacker, left the field after hitting
and tackling Burbank quarterback Mike McDonald for a 7-yard loss.
Affected by the situation, and wishing to respect the Gabrielino
players and fans, Bulldog Coach Greg Sobiech suggested the nonleague
game be halted with the Eagles leading, 12-7. The Gabrielino coaches
Castillo was immediately taken to Providence St. Joseph Medical
Center, then transferred to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in
Mission Hills. A month ago, he was moved to an undisclosed
Castillo remained in critical condition and was in the hospital’s
critical-care unit after three surgeries to remove a blood clot and
relieve pressure on the left side of his brain.
Critical condition refers to a patient whose life signs are
unstable and are not within accepted limits, Providence Medical
Center spokesman Dan Boyle said.
The Castillo family filed a claim against the San Gabriel and
Burbank districts in November, alleging improper medical care and
faulty equipment. Included in the allegations is that Castillo was
playing with improperly inflated cushioning inside his helmet.
The boy complained of head pain and dizziness to other players and
coaches during the second quarter and halftime, according to the
One person who has been moved by Castillo’s improved condition is
Sobiech. Throughout the player’s ordeal, Sobiech has stayed in touch
with the Castillo family and has visited Andrew several times in the
“This is nothing short of a miracle,” Sobiech said. “It just shows
what the power of prayer and positive thinking can do. This is just
“I am just so happy and giddy for Andrew’s family, and especially
his father Joe. Joe has been with him through the entire ordeal,
talking to him and telling him things were going to be all right.”
Sobiech said the good news will also be appreciated by his Burbank
players, some of whom have been concerned and were affected by the
“I know the family will continue to help with Andrew’s recovery,”
said Sobiech, who plans to visit Castillo next week. “I know a lot of
people who will be hoping for a full recovery.
“There are quite a few people who love and care a great deal for
this remarkable young man. I know we at Burbank are behind him and
wishing him the best.”