Benson Football Player Dies

By: Ann McIntire, Justin Joseph Email
By: Ann McIntire, Justin Joseph Email

A Benson football player has died following Tuesday afternoon's practice. 16-year-old Wilson Vili collapsed 2 hours after football practice.

At his side, his older brother William Peter Vili. They shared everything together. "I guess you could say it happened quickly. I guess when something like that happens, all you can do is try to react as fast as you can."

Wilson collapsed as the two ate dinner in a park while waiting for their younger sister to finish volleyball practice. He later died at the Nebraska Medical Center.

"It's so emotional when you see your kid laying there and there's nothing in the world you can do," says his father Vaalele Vili. "There ain't so many words we can say about it. It's just shock. It's all the sudden."

He was at work Tuesday night when he received the news. "There's a lot of things that comes through your mind when that phone rings especially when you got a family."

William Peter Vili, a senior at Benson, wore a ribbon on his shirt as a small way to say goodbye. "At first there was a lot of sorrow. But as the day kept going people talked to each other and calmed down. He was just a great person. He greeted everybody with a smile and he got a smile back

Vili is described as a student who had everything going for him. The junior was a tight end for the football team, wearing the number one jersey.

There were no signs Vili was feeling ill during Tuesday night's practice. "Everything was good for his physical for sports, beautiful young man, very well liked at Benson High School," says OPS Spokeswoman Luanne Nelson.

Grief counselors were present at Benson High Wednesday to talk to students and staff. Nelson said there was a somber feeling in the hallways as everyone mourned the loss of the popular Wilson. "Not only sad but it is shocking, it was very sudden, again a very healthy young man, and we have at this time, no medical cause for his death."

William Peter came to school Wednesday to talk to others about the tragedy. "He came to comfort other students. This is a young man who just lost his own brother. I think that speaks to the compassion and the heart of this family," says Nelson.

Benson High's homecoming is Friday. The school plans a recognition ceremony during the game, however the details have not been finalized.

An autopsy was performed Wednesday. The family says it's too early to tell what happened. There's no indication at this point this had anything to do with football practice.

The family's church is taking donations in Wilson's name. If you want to help contact the Eagle's Nest Church and Pastor Hart.

You can also stop by Benson High and buy a ribbon. The football team is selling them for $1.

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