Texas Committee Reviews Vasquez Death, Autopsy, and Future Protocol
AUSTIN -- The Medical Advisory Committee under the Texas Department
of Licensing and Regulation convened last Friday to review its
investigation of the death of Sam Vasquez, who became the first
fighter in the U.S. to die from injuries sustained in
Vasquez competed in his third professional bout on October 20,
2007, when he faced Vince
Libardi at the Toyota Center in Houston. He was knocked down
with a punch in the third round and subsequently collapsed. Vasquez
underwent a series of surgeries to relieve pressure on his brain
and was in a comatose state for six weeks before succumbing to the
blunt force trauma on Nov. 30.
Lee Parham, TDLR's Manager of Business and Occupations - which
oversees the state's Combative Sports Program - spoke before the
committee regarding the investigation conducted by the state
Included in his summary, Parham addressed Texas' mandatory cage
inspections by licensed personnel, as well as procedural reviews in
order to maintain availability of emergency personnel and
Parham told the committee that a DVD of the bout was reviewed and
then recounted Vasquez's performance. Vasquez's head hit one of the
posts in the cage as Libardi took him down in the opening round.
Vasquez could be seen squinting and blinking his eyes after the
takedown but was active in punching and defending himself with
The third round saw Vasquez receive a punch to the head that
dropped him. He collapsed as he tried to get back up and proceeded
to butt scoot to the fence, where he remained leaning on the fence.
Referee Kerry Hatley stopped the bout with ten seconds
Primary ringside physician Dr. Jorge Guerrero immediately evaluated
Vasquez and called for EMTs to remove the fighter from the cage.
Vasquez was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital, the closest
facility to the Toyota Center.
Parham concluded his review by stating that the bout was "conducted
in accordance with all laws and rules pertaining to combative
sports" and that state-mandated personnel at the event "performed
their duties in accordance with all laws and rules pertaining to
"We are looking into the padding on the posts," Parham told the
committee. "There are no specifications on the post padding…The
padding on the post only [requires] an ‘adequate' [amount]."
Committee member Dr. Ivan Melendez concurred with fellow official
Dr. Walter Lee's opinion that the post in question was "the
definitive culprit," but vowed to remain objective with his
"You have to take all things into consideration. He [Vasquez] did
have head blows; he did hit his head on the mat; and he did hit his
head on the post," remarked Dr. Lee. "I can't sit here and say that
[Vasquez's head striking the post] did it. I think it may have been
a summation of the events that took place during the match."
From Vasquez's autopsy report, Dr. Melendez referenced the subdural
hemorrhaging and the blunt force trauma Vasquez died of. He
concluded that there was no way of definitively determining which
blow received was the one that caused the fatal damage.
Parham later told Sherdog.com that the padding of cage posts would
be explored in depth given Vasquez's noticeable reaction after
hitting his head in the first round. This would include a mandatory
minimum amount of padding instituted. Current state law allows for
TDLR to modify rules at their own discretion. Legal matters
concerning the regulatory body, however, must be addressed through
Texas' state legislature, which convenes once every other year.
In an open discussion, the committee also suggested "warning sign"
fact sheets be distributed to fighters after bouts and the
possibility of sealed medical histories being delivered to hospital
personnel should a fighter require additional care.
Parham finished by firmly stating that no action was taken by the
regulatory body regarding the suspending or canceling of events in
the aftermath of Vasquez's fight and subsequent death.
GRRRR!!!More on Sherdog.com Mobile