Raabe Classic player injured in auto accident

Nellis recovering in Pittsburgh hospital

HONORING JAMES – PAHS graduate, Class of 2010, James Nellis was honored with a moment of silence at the beginning of the Don Raabe Charities Classic held Saturday at Parkway Field in Bradford. The Pennsylvania All-Star was seriously injured in a car accident on his way to work last week following the Big 30 Banquet. His jersey and helmet were displayed throughout the game. (Photo by Pam Fischer / Reporter Argus)

When Port Allegany offensive lineman James Nellis was asked why he wanted to participate in this year’s Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic, he replied, “I love football and it’s an honor to be part of the game, and I wanted to play one last time.”

Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get the chance to suit up on Saturday evening. On his way to work following the banquet last Thursday night, the 18-year-old Nellis was seriously injured in an automobile accident outside Emporium. As of Tuesday, he remained in the intensive care unit at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

After hearing about the accident, Pennsylvania head coach Tony Tridico knew he still had to get his squad ready to take the field. But his thoughts – and those of everyone involved with the game – were with his injured player, who was honored with a moment of silence and whose helmet and red No. 58 jersey were displayed behind the Pennsy bench.

“I was lying on the couch Friday afternoon just thinking, ‘What do you say?’ I grouped them up (at the last practice) and I spoke from my experiences, relating it to life, and they responded exceptionally well. But it was difficult, and I’m sure it still will be,” Tridico said after the game, then asked if there were any new updates.

Of course, none of Nellis’ teammates were more affected by the news than Lucas Kline and Ryan Bodamer, his friends and fellow Port High graduates.

“It was really hard to get focused for the game, because that was all that was on my mind. Once the game started, luckily I got focused. But as soon as it ended, that’s the first thing I thought of,” Kline said, with Bodamer expressing similar sentiments.

The family continues to update James’ recovery on Facebook, and as of Tuesday afternoon, more than 450 people had signed up on a page there entitled “Prayers for James Nellis.”

The UPMC website includes an online option to create free e-cards which will be printed out and delivered, available at https://ecards.upmc.com/default.asp. Cards and other items may also be sent to the following address: (Please note that hospital regulations prohibit live flowers and latex balloons.)

James Nellis
ICU 4G #9
UPMC Presbyterian
200 Lothrop St.
Pittsburgh PA 15213-2582

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