Another Kuna football player fighting for his life

Credit: Ronnie Soldano, Synchrnyze Photography

Another Kuna football player fighting for his life

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 11:01 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 11:02 AM

KUNA -- The Kuna community has experienced a tough few months.

First, Kuna High School football player Boone Bartlome suffered a serious spinal cord injury during a November game. Then, 11-year-old Daniel Robert Cook died in a bus crash on his way to school in December. Now, another young man from Kuna is in the hospital fighting for his life too.

Elijah Minnick is a junior at Kuna High School, and plays on the same team as Bartlome. Minnick spent New Year's Eve hospitalized with a strep infection and was still in a Boise hospital Thursday night.

" ... it's a little bit of a slug in the gut," said Kuna varsity football coach, Lee Leslie, describing the impact of both player's conditions on both the community and himself.

Leslie went on to say Minnick had surgery on his appendix late last year, and doctors aren't sure how he got the strep infection. Leslie believes the earlier surgery likely weakened his immune system, contributing to the severity of the strep infection.

"They were close to losing him in the ambulance," Leslie said. "His kidneys had shut down. His organs were shutting down, and thankfully they did a great job taking care of him, and he's in ICU."

While it's not clear how long Minnick will be under intensive care, Leslie said it could be upwards of 30 days.

Minnick and his brother, Jonah, have played right next to each other for Leslie for two years. Elijah plays left tackle, and Jonah left guard.

"I walk down the hallway of ICU, and all I can see is Elijah laying there with all this stuff on him, and Jonah holding his hand, and it just rips your heart out to see that," said Leslie.

Leslie visited Minnick in the hospital and said he's in a coma on dialysis, hooked up to a network of machines. As Minnick fights for his life, Leslie says the Kuna community is fighting, too.

"It's just a lot to deal with out there in that area, but people are rallying around each other, and I think that's what it's all about," Leslie said. "I think everybody's tired of crying, and we're just ready to suck it up and fight."

Jonah Minnick also has a strep infection, but is being treated with antibiotics at home and is doing better than his brother.

As for Boone Bartlome, he's expected to be back home in February.

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