Player comes out of coma

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

brain function.

“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

private-care facility.

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

wonderful news.

“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.”