SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Dozens of players competing in the National Youth Football Championships, including 11 kids from a Santa Monica team, have come down with a violent stomach flu in Las Vegas.
Eddie Polite said his 13-year-old son, Winston, plays for the Santa Monica Vikings and couldn’t wait to play in the championships.
“He was really charged up to go, couldn’t sleep the night before, he was ready to roll,” Polite said.
Polite said Winston’s excitement changed on Thursday, a mere 24 hours after arriving to the Rio hotel.
“He got off the field around 7 p.m., at around 10 or 10:30 p.m., he started to take ill and became violently ill, and started throwing up a lot,” he said.
Five of Winston’s teammates were hospitalized.
Polite decided to rent a car and take his son home.
“I just made the decision around 7 o’clock this morning. I was like, ‘We’re getting out of here,’” Polite said.
Sports Network International Inc., which organized the event, estimated that as many as 80 children out of the 7,000 participating also became ill.
Some at the competition speculated the players got sick from pesticides sprayed on the field.
Justin Gates, a competition director from Sports Network International, didn’t believe that to be the case.
“We have eight different fields that we use in Las Vegas. Some of them are turf fields, some of them are grass fields, some of them are owned by the county of Las Vegas school board, some of them are owned by the recreation department, there was nothing that we could find anywhere that was common to the fields that these teams played on,” Gates said.
He added, “The only common component of the whole event was the registration and weigh-in.”
The children are also staying at different hotels.
“My big frustration with this is that there should have been some sort of an answer by now,” Polite said.
KCAL9’s Melanie Woodrow said the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health is investigating the incident.