May 4th, 2009 22:50 EST
Cowboys Scout Paralyzed At Training Camp
A Dallas Cowboys scouting assistant endured a broken back and is now permanently paralyzed after the team`s practice tent collapsed on top of him during a severe thunderstorm.
Rich Behm was one of three Cowboys personnel who were seriously injured when the storm hit the team`s preseason training facility on Saturday afternoon.
The canopy fell on Behm, fracturing a vertebrae which led to his spinal cord being severed. The assistant is now paralyzed from the waist down, according to a Dallas Cowboys` spokesperson.
Cowboys` owner Jerry Jones sent his condolences to the valued member of the Cowboys staff and the man`s family.
"To the Behm family, we extend our love, comfort and the full support of every person and resource within the organization," he said. "Rich is a courageous member of our family and someone for whom we care deeply. We ask for all friends and fans of the Dallas Cowboys to join us in embracing him and his family with their thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time."
12 people in all were hurt after the violent storm movement rolled across the facility, and took out the air-operated metal structure that sheltered the Cowboys` training field. Close to 70 people, including over two dozen NFL rookies, were inside the facility at the time of the collapse.
A storm front moved through the Dallas-Fort Worth area mid-day on Saturday, but city officials reported that no other buildings sustained any damage.
The team announced that Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis suffered from a fractured cervical vertebra, and assistant trainer Greg Gaither had two broken bones in his leg.
Photographer Arnold Payne was capturing the Cowboys` practice exercises for the WFAA when the storm began to rock the canopy`s foundation.
Payne recounted that rain started pouring down "tremendously hard."
In an interview with CNN, Payne said: "I noticed the walls started to waver... and then I noticed that the lights that were hanging from the ceiling started to sway, and it wouldn`t stop. It was as if someone took a stick pin and hit a balloon."
He said staff photographers for the team were poised in the rafters of the canopy, shooting the progress on the field below when the facility came crashing down.
"(The photographers) actually rode the building down with the storm. There was nowhere for them to go, and it fell so fact - it just collapsed as if it was being imploded," Payne told reporters.