Cowboys assistant left paralyzed after roof collapse

By Calvin Palmer

A scouting assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is permanently paralyzed from the waist down following the collapse of the team’s tent-like practice facility in Irving, Texas, yesterday during a severe storm.

Rich Behm was in stable condition at Parkland Hospital in Dallas today after surgery to stabilize a fracture to the thoracic spine.

The 33-year-old Behm was among a dozen people hurt in the accident Saturday, and was one of three Cowboys staffers who remained hospitalized.

Joe DeCamillis, 43, the team’s special teams coach, sustained a fracture of one of his cervical vertebrae without paralysis. He was in stable condition and scheduled for surgery tomorrow.

Assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither, 35, had surgery last night to repair a fracture to the tibia and fibula in his right leg. He is expected to be released from the hospital later this week.

“To the Behm family we extend our love, comfort, and the full support of every person and resource within the organization,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement.

“Rich is a courageous member of our family and someone for whom we care deeply. We ask for all friends and fans of the Dallas Cowboys to join us in embracing him and his family with their thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.”

Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said Jones spent “considerable time” last night night and today visiting those in the hospital.

The collapse of the $4 million practice facility injured 12 people. Just before the structure was flattened, the wind was clocked at 64 mph, one mph shy of the threshold for a weak tornado.

National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Woodall said a “microburst” may have pushed the wind beyond 70 mph at the top of the structure.

“The fact that there weren’t more injuries is rather miraculous,” Woodall said.

[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]

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