An 11-year-old Austin, Texas, girl faces possible permanent blindness after getting a football thrown directly at her face by bullies.
Gwendolyn Quarles was in gym class when she reportedly began having an argument with another student after the coaches left students alone. “There seems to have been an argument and then she remembers a ball flying at her,” her father, Patrick Quarles, told ABC News.
Quarles was sent to the nurse after the incident, complaining of a “floating feeling.” She was later taken to an emergency room, where doctors diagnosed her with intracranial hypertension, a rare brain disorder that occurs when pressure inside the skull chokes the optic nerve. Symptoms of intracranial hypertension include nausea, headache, vomiting, double vision and, in extreme cases, blindness.
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Doctors were unable to confirm whether or not Quarles’ condition was a result of the football incident at school, though intracranial hypertension is often the result of severe head injuries.
Mary Ann Duncan, the vice president of the charter school that Quarles attends, said that she could not comment on the incident and neither confirm nor deny that it occurred. “We are not allowed to speak about confidential student information but the school's policy is to investigate and notify parents promptly of any accident or bullying,” she said.
Quarles’ parents said they’re concerned that their daughter, who began having problems with her sight after the incident, will face permanent blindness among other problems.
“She sometimes has trouble understanding me and sometimes she will trip over things. It comes and goes,” Patrick Quarles said.
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According to the young girl’s parents, they had sent 23 emails to the school informing them that their daughter was being bullied by a group of girls, and even said they’d feared it would escalate to physical violence. While the school reportedly attempted to ease the situation, Mr. and Mrs. Quarles wish everyone – themselves included – had done more.
“You think, 'What’s the worst that can happen?'” Patrick said. “But you never think this."