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Prineville teen collapses at HS basketball practice; player, mother say mask to blame

(Update: Adding video, comments)

'It was absolutely terrifying,' mother says

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Crook County School District says it's investigating what caused freshman Savannah Lay to collapse during a girls' basketball practice at Crook County High School Tuesday night. But she, her mother and her doctor believe they know why: the mask players must wear.

NewsChannel 21 spoke Wednesday with Lay, who says she's been playing since the age of 5 and had never experienced anything like this.

Lay, who is 16, says she and her teammates were all wearing masks during practice, but she found it increasingly difficult to breathe.

"I was having trouble breathing," Lay recalled. "We were doing just a couple drills that would normally be easy for me to do, and it was really hard for me to breathe, so I asked to take a break."

Lay says she headed to the locker room to try and catch her breath, but she began to gasp for air, then collapsed.

"It was at the point where I was gasping for air," Lay said. "One of my teammates went to get one of the coaches and then I blacked out, and then I woke up in the ambulance." 

According to her mother, Jessica Lay, the coaches and a police officer were able to perform CPR to get her breathing again.

Lay added that the ER doctor said this was an isolated case of a lack of oxygen due to running and distress with a mask on.

"I almost lost my daughter last night," Lay said. "It was absolutely terrifying."

She also believes the situation could have been avoided.

"Our collegiate level basketball, our NBA basketball, WNBA -- they're playing without masks," Lay said. "They have to wear masks while they sit on the sideline and they're not running. So why is it any different for our high school and youth levels?"

According to OSAA guidelines:

  • Statewide, masks, face coverings or face shields are required to be worn by all individuals at all times unless the individual: Is outdoors, competing in or practicing a non-contact sport, and maintains at least six (6) feet of distance from individuals outside of their household.

Lay says she knows her daughter wants to play, after all the delays and uncertainty, but she just can't let her out on a court if she's required to wear a mask.

"I can't risk losing my child over a mask," Lay said.

For now, the teen says she won't return to the court if she has to wear a mask.

"Honestly, I would just say it's just time for us to take a stand and just get this over with," Lay said. "I mean, if we all showed up to practice with no masks, what are they going to do? I just want everyone to be safe, and I don't think it's safe for anybody to do any physical activity in a mask."

And her mother echoes a similar sentiment.

"I just feel like what's it going to take," Lay said. "When is enough going to be enough? Is it going to take that a child dies for anybody to wake up?" 

The incident brought echoes of Summit High School runner Maggie Williams, who was wearing a mask last month when she collapsed at the finish line of an event. The attention it brought that prompted the state to revise its mask mandate for outdoor athletic competition.

Central Oregon / Crook County / Local News / News / Prineville / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.



  1. Fascinating! This coincides very well with the CDC data release today that wearing masks outdoors have no effect on the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Looking forward to the next release!

  2. “Masks don’t restrict breathing”

    Bull**** they don’t. It doesn’t take a PhD to figure that out either. It’s literally resistance to air.

      1. Not according to the CDC! Only C95 and above have any protection or prevent the spread of airborne containiments! Please stop your lies baby troll!

        1. Yeah right. A medical mask and being aware of my surroundings aloud me to work around people for the entire pandemic and not get Covid. It’s pretty simple science. I also enjoy working with my mask on and mumbling under my breath at fools like you making my co workers laugh. I do agree that we should not play sports with masks on though.

        2. It’s transmitted in vapor you absolute imbecile. That’s why it’s called droplet precaution.

          This is why uneducated idiots like yourself are not to be trusted over people with, you know, medical degrees. Droplet precautions WORK VERY EFFECTIVELY with surgical masks.


          You have the same IQ as my thermostat reading right now.

        3. Barney, please consider removing or banning users like this one that post provably false deceptive information. How much damage is this psychopath causing because he is allowed to ramble like an insane idiot for everyone to see?

          This is literally provably false information. The bread and butter of the GQP party, blatant misinformation that is disproved by the simplest and lowest of effort google searches.

          You are a liar, and degenerate, and an anti-intellectual not worthy of a voice in our society.

            1. That’s your problem. You have a made up “job” where you think it’s important to comment and answer questions that aren’t even directed toward you.

              1. You or anyone raises issues on local stories that I have answers or corrections to, I’m not going to leave them out there, I’m going to post a comment and do my job. Feel free to go elsewhere if you’re dissatisfied.

      2. According the CDC study, you are wrong. Mask have only prevented the spread about 1-1.5 %. No prevention there. You are foolish to believe otherwise.


    1. I’m not buying this crap for a second. I spent 30 years doing body and fender work wearing a mask.Doing this type of work on commission as a 50 year old is far more physical labor than a simple basketball practice.Never once did I feel like I was “gasping for air”.

      1. re: Eric in Redmond. I’m in my upper 30s and.. pretty healthy don’t have asthma.. and sometimes when I’m wearing my mask at work doing physical labor I notice i’m breathing more and harder.. also.. some people get clastraphobic with a mask on. Don’t tell me its.. B.S.. also you are probably wearing a resperator.. not a mask.. .. nice try.. Please do tell what company you work for so I know not to do business with you.

        1. Painters wear respirators to keep aerosols and toxic fumes out of their system, Bodymen wear masks to keep dust out. Only an idiot would post something so ignorant.

    2. Masks reduce oxygen intake as much as 20%. Contact OSHA and ask them why pre covid regulations prevented the use of masks in the workplace. Call your medical provider and ask them why patients with COPD or other breathing disorders are exempt from wearing masks. You should truly educate yourself before making such a claim that mask do not restrict you breathing. Not only do masks restrict oxygen intake they increase the amount of CO2 intake.

    3. re: popcorntublol how is that different? isn’t that the same as restricting breathing.. thats what it sounds like to me.. also.. it is not BS.. I’d love to see how you feel if this story was about you and someone commented saying “you are a lier” .. some people who wear masks feel clastrophobic.. then as a result they might try to get more air in and feel restricted so panic and then possibly hypoventilate.. .. it is science.. if you have something restricting your air way and your working out sooner or later you’l have problems..
      I am fairly young and when I am working hard at work I notice I feel like I’m breathing harder and heavier. and.. I feel a little dizzy like I need water or something.

  3. Her doctor? Why say that if you don’t interview the MD? Do better KTVZ, this was lazy and nonsense, but hey the story has a lot of drama and enough lay person expertise for some quick click bait.

    1. re: powers.. how nice of you .. judgy mcjudgerson.. it is not click bait. it is a serious issue.. How many kids have to pass out and possibly die until you get the picture? seriously.

      1. Riddle me this , oh wise one. How many children have died from COVID? Want to stack it up against deaths due to masks? Even a genius like you should be able to do that math. Seriously.

    2. They didn’t ask if she has any other pre-existing conditions… or ask to see the mask she wears (mesh) … there is information there that would solve this mystery LOL – Poor reporting for sure.

  4. “The attention it brought that prompted the state to revise its mask mandate for OUTDOOR athletic competition.” BECAUSE NO ONE IS CATCHING IT OUTSIDE.

    I’ve seen people driving alone in their car, wearing a mask. I saw a woman soloing in a kayak, on a large lake, wearing a mask. I’ve seen people amply spaced, hiking along canyon trails, wearing masks.

    The level of absurdity is astounding.

    1. You are correct if you know the cause – such as a bit too much alcohol or something similar. Lack of oxygen is another matter altogether.

  5. I hate to see athletes in school having their lives in danger due to the air restrictions of even the lightest masks. It’s difficult for me working all day indoors wearing one. I am fortunate to have a work from home option. My children are fortunate they had the opportunity for school with no masks, although there was a high school shooting.

    I used to feel so much safer here.

    1. you must be at death’s door if you can’t wear a mask indoors in an air conditioned environment…

      but it’s okay, covid only kills people like you who are about to go anyway from other causes…

      would be smart for you to get vaccinated.

      1. However, if you are correct AND the scary virus was as deadly as advertised “people like you” should already be dead, its been 14 months since the media introduced the panic….

    1. This is not about you – Damn liberal trolls ! You do realize that there are individuals who can’t eat common peanuts because of severe allergies ??? So let’s not compare everyone to you- and your “I support meth-Joe Biden and Kate Brown” stoopidity !

      1. My goodness you right wing snowflakes are so easily triggered. It is really quite funny. I also cannot eat nuts – but I would never in a million years say that the person next to me couldn’t eat nuts. If this player is so fragile that she can’t wear a mask while playing basketball, then she should sit out the season. Because SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE CAN.

    2. been going to the gym most of my life. spent 18 years in the military doing physical training. passed out in the gym because i couldnt get enough oxygen through the mask and rebreathing CO2. this is happening to athletes all over the country. not only that but if the child wasnt breathing and CPR needed to be performed, then that was an actual emergency. this business of kids wearing masks is the most ridiculous nonsense and it needs to stop.

    3. re: Lutheview.. amazing how I am fairly young and healthy don’t have asthma.. but when I am working hard wearing a mask. I notice I am breathing harder and more.. interesting how it works.. I have felt kind of light headed as well. again interesting.. instead of judging others.. why not say something nice.

    1. Yeah, like masks really work, we hardly have any cases. Then why even bother especially when it comes to young athletes who are unaffected by the virus. But the insane witch in Salem just keeps terrorizing the our children.

  6. and yet another student falls prey to the commie and her henchmen, not to mention the spineless school board and oregon department of education. Thanks for ruining our children’s livelihood

  7. This breathless and dramatic headline really is something I would expect more from a radical right wing propaganda outfit.

    Shame on you KTVZ for this piece. of. …

    1. Who the … are you to tell others to wear a mask? If you are afraid if this pandemic stay the … home and let others live their lives.
      BTW, any more garbage you can post another 100 more times?

    2. re: itmfa.. ktvz is not right wing.. not in the least.. its not propaganda.. if its would you like it if this story was about you and I called B.s.. you wouldn’t like it very much would you?

  8. This is garbage journalism.

    So two people from a county that has the lowest vaccination rate in the State get 3 minutes of airtime for their anti-mask viewpoint?

    With ZERO counterpoint?

  9. The “victim” mom asks “Why aren’t we like elite college teams?”

    For one, they have giant budgets and are massive profit centers. They have their own medical teams, and get tested more times in a week than most people do in their life. They also have strict rules about maintaining limited social bubbles, all very unlike this Crook County rinky dink girls team.

  10. that sure is one healthy kid – almost as healthy as the panel of experts assembled in this comment section – what a bunch of drama queens with nothing productive to do

  11. I coach High School sports. If I am being totally honest here I did not think wearing a mask would be a big deal for the athletes. The argument we kept hearing at coaches meetings was that “If a surgeon can perform heart surgery with a mask on then you can play sports in one with no problems”

    It became apparent rather quickly what the problem was. First, surgeons don’t run during surgery. Second, the sweat from your body makes the mask heavy and restricts air flow. It sticks to your face. There is a reason people don’t wear masks during strenuous activities. You just can’t breathe fully.

    Even though only 2 examples have been given, I have witnessed first hand student athletes struggling to breath throughout practice or a game. We had multiple kids gasping for breath on the sidelines, this includes everyone, even the hard core kids that never want to come off the field. They were not faking it. The problem is real

    Lastly, It doesn’t make sense that you can run next to someone, tackle someone, wrestle someone, sweat all over someone but make sure and wear a mask while you are doing this to prevent spread.

    1. The thought of you influencing children depresses me at a base level. Thoughts and prayers to all the parents of the children you interact with.

      1. If that makes you sad, I hope you missed the post where BGHW professed to working with children. Damn near made me hire a lawyer to make actual censor Barney cough up the name of that danger to society.

    1. Following your logic, since only a handful died of COVID and the rest didn’t, why all the restrictions for the entire population? The problem must be the ones who died.

      1. Lassie, That is not fair using logic. Just do what you are told and do not ask questions or the Ministry of Truth will be knocking on your door.

      2. You did not follow his logic but developed your own faulty logic. Maybe it should be….because of preventative measures a smaller number died than would have if there had been no preventative measures taken.

        Let’s hope that the girl is thoroughly checked out by specialists, not just by the ER doc.

  12. I say, those who do not want to wear a mask, fine. When you get someone sick and they die, you can be charged with manslaughter and sentenced to prison.

    1. Does the same apply to our government leaders if it later is found that the masks and vaccines are actually counterproductive? Are you proposing that Kate Brown should be charged with manslaughter and sent to prison if what she is requiring is later found to have killed people instead of saving them?

    2. Do you really think that our L.E agencies would dedicate the time and resources to try and prove something like this ? Even if they did, we have a worthless D.A that would never prosecute. He can’t even seem to put together a case in one of the local double homicides.

  13. Here is how masks need to be used in order to be effective against Covid-19. This is directly from the WHO.

    Clean your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off, and after you touch it at any time.
    Make sure it covers both your nose, mouth and chin.
    When you take off a mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it’s a fabric mask, or dispose of a medical mask in a trash bin.

    If you are not doing these key steps with your mask then your mask is doing more harm than good. How many mask wearers are actually doing these steps? I have not seen one and if you watch a mask wearer including me, you will see that they touch their masks without washing their hands first many times per hour. Therefore the way most people are using masks make them worse than worthless.

  14. A mask does not only affect the air you take in, it also affects the way you exhale. Breathing is not just about supplying oxygen to your body, breathing also provides one way for your body to rid itself of toxins. When you sneeze of cough the air is expelled at a high velocity for a reason. To rid your body of what it needs to get rid of and get it as far away from you as possible so that you do not take it back in. A mask clearly prevents this. So while a mask may protect others when you sneeze, cough, or breath, the mask also prevents your body from being able to properly protect itself. Many people have become ill with Covid because they were exposed to a very low viral load of Covid which in a normal situation without a mask they would have been able to fight off. But because they wore a mask their body was unable to keep the viral load below the limit at which they become symptomatic. I wear a mask when I am around others, but just as soon as I am away from people I take mine off. Repiration is about a lot more than just taking air in. This is science. Actual science.

    1. If you have coughed or sneezed out a toxin, virus or bacteria, a mask “holding it in” is not going to cause any more damage. You’ve already obviously been exposed to whatever it is you coughed or sneezed out. Masks are designed for people with normal lung function. If you are unable to have proper gas exchange while wearing a mask, you should have pulmonary function studies to determine why.

  15. Once again, an important and serious discussion has denigrated into name calling by too many people. Not everyone can breathe properly while wearing masks. I have costochondritis, which is inflammation of the chest wall. Also, rheumatoid arthritis and anemia. Mask wearing has caused me to have a trans ischemic attack- mini stroke. NONE of us know, just by looking at other people, what their physical conditions are.
    Perhaps, we should all stop playing God, as well as judge, jury, and executioner. God made us to be creatures that need oxygen to live. Of course, any reduction of oxygen will not be beneficial and can, potentially, cause varying degrees of damage.

  16. I would question the entire sequence of events here. I don’t think they gave this girl CPR, for one. 2, if she did in fact “pass out” then nobody should let this girl play any sport until she see’s an actual doctor, not the school nurse.

      1. Nobody was talking to you and the girl said she “blacked out.” I don’t think she required CPR and if she did, it had nothing to do with a mask. She probably has COVID, ironically.

  17. I love it when we are out hiking and sheeple have their masks on outside. When we approach them they lurch to the side of the trail in horror. Have never worn a mask, have not social distanced, have socialized as I please with no limit of family and friends. Nothing has happened to anyone in our circle. You know why – we have immune systems that function properly without any advice from the corrupt CDC.

  18. Two incidents of young ladies claiming LOC from wearing a mask while physically active? I surely hope both these ladies have pulmonary function studies before resuming athletics. They would seem to be the exception rather than the norm and should have tests to determine why their lungs cannot get enough O2 when so many others are not adversely affected under the same circumstances.

    1. As I mentioned above, since COVID deaths are the “exception” why not just do away with all restrictions. After all 99.9% survives without any long term affects so why all the big fuss?

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