Cowboys Assistant Coach Set for Surgery

May 4, 2009 - 2:03 PM
The Dallas Cowboys' special teams coach was set for surgery Monday on his fractured cervical vertebrae after the team's tentlike practice facility collapsed in fierce wind.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bobby Carpenter looks over the collapsed canopy that had covered the Cowboys indoor football facility, Sunday, May 3, 2009, in Irving, Texas. Twelve people were injured when the roof collapsed Saturday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Irving, Texas (AP) - The Dallas Cowboys' special teams coach was set for surgery Monday on his fractured cervical vertebrae after the team's tentlike practice facility collapsed in fierce wind.
 
Government inspectors were on site Monday and began investigating the collapse, said Elizabeth Todd, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Officials with the city of Irving were examining construction and inspection paperwork regarding the $4 million structure built in 2003.
 
Joe DeCamillis was one of 12 people injured and three Cowboys staff members still in the hospital following Saturday's accident. The Cowboys didn't immediately return a call regarding whether surgery on the 43-year-old assistant had begun early Monday.
 
The most seriously injured was Rich Behm, the team's 33-year-old scouting assistant who was permanently paralyzed from the waist down after his spine was severed. Behm and assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither, 35, remained hospitalized. Gaither had surgery on his fractured upper and lower right leg and was expected to be released this week.
 
About 70 people, including 27 players attending a rookie minicamp, were in the structure when the storm hit. Wind in the area was clocked at 64 mph, 1 mph shy of the threshold for a weak tornado. National Weather Service officials said a "microburst" may have pushed the wind beyond 70 mph at the top of the structure that was built in 2003.
 
Behm, DeCamillis and Gaither were standing on the field when the $4 million structure gave way, sending debris such as the framework and lights crashing to the ground.
 
Most players at the minicamp were drafted the previous weekend or signed as undrafted rookies, but none was hurt. No veterans were involved. Coaches, support staff and media were also in the no-frills building, which is essentially a 100-yard football field with a few more yards of clearance all the way around. The roof was 80 feet high.
 
Media were restricted from the Cowboys headquarters through at least a week because of "ongoing work that is scheduled to take place in the aftermath of the accident."
 
OSHA investigates workplace accidents and has six months to make a report. Todd said a report could come sooner depending on the complexity of the case.
 
___
 
Associated Press Writer Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.