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The Ultimate Return to Play: Loyola Blakefield’s Peter Laake After Suffering Commotio Cordis

On Friday, April 16, Loyola Blakefield (Md.) hosted McDonogh (Md.) at Hargaden Field. With time ticking down in the first quarter and the Eagles leading 4-0, McDonogh attackman McCabe Millon took a shot from the point on fastbreak. Loyola freshman defenseman Peter Laake rotated upfield and “ate” the shot (as it’s colloquially referred to) in the left side of his rib cage, below his pectoral muscle. He was wearing the shoulder pads that he’d worn for a season or two. The ball bounced away, he took two steps and collapsed face-first into the ground. One leg crossed behind the other, and he did not reach his arms in front of him to brace his fall.

“I remember moving back a couple steps, I was very dizzy, and in a second, my eyes were getting blurry, shaking, then I blacked out,” Laake says. His next conscious memory, he was shirtless on the field, with the pads of an automatic external defibrillator attached to his chest.

The shot had produced a Commotio Cordis event, which is a sudden ceasing of the heart beat resulting from a traumatic blow to the chest, the same injury that caused George Boiardi’s and Louis Acampora’s deaths. While chest compressions can help to maintain the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the body in the absence of a heart beat, they cannot resuscitate someone who’s experienced Commotio Cordis — only defibrillation can restore the electronic impulse that causes the heart to beat.


By Terry Foy

Photos Janine Robinson

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