CINCINNATI -- An Elder High School alumnus and Wright State freshman suffered a traumatic injury Saturday at a large party in Oxford, Ohio.
Ryan Custer was in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, according to WCPO media partner the Journal-News.
He was found face-down in a shallow, makeshift pool shortly before 4 p.m., the Journal-News reported. The pool was part of a party at a student rental property at 305 North Main St.
Custer had tried to jump into the water between someone’s legs, Oxford Police Sgt. Ryan Sikora said. He was not sure of the extent of Custer’s injuries.
"He was having a hard time feeling his extremities,” Sikora said.
Custer graduated from Elder last spring. Elder Athletic Director Dave Dabbelt said he'd spoken with some of Custer's family Sunday.
"He had a little bit of an operation last night trying to take some fluid off of the spinal cord. Really that’s all I know," Dabbelt said. "I know he’s in the hospital."
Oxford Fire Chief John Detherage told the Journal-News the pool had been constructed using straw bales and a blue tarp. It had between 6 and 10 inches of water and a slide contraption.
Detherage said one of the bystanders pulled him out of the water.
Sikora said about 300 to 400 people were at the party; while WCPO has investigated the drinking culture at Miami, police issued just one citation for underage drinking at Saturday's gathering, Sikora said.
Elder community praying for Custer's recovery
Elder basketball coach Joe Schoenfeld had just texted Custer this week, asking him if he was interested in participating in an open gym workout session.
“He said, ‘Thanks coach. I can’t wait to come up and run around with you guys at open gyms during the off season,’” Schoenfeld said.
On Sunday morning, the longtime Elder coach was praying his former standout would recover.
"I still don't know any real 100 percent of the details, but such a sad situation," Schoenfeld told WCPO.com Sunday morning. "I know he had surgery last night, I think around 2 in the morning. The doctors can't say too much because every situation is different. I know he had surgery. That's all I know for now. I feel bad for him and his family."
As for what the community could do, Dabbelt asked people to keep Custer and his family in their prayers.
Purcell Marian coach Scott Kerr also asked for prayers for Custer's recovery:
Please keep Elder basketball alum Ryan Custer in your prayers - hoping for the best possible result!
— Scott Kerr (@CoachSTK) April 9, 2017
Custer, who just completed his freshman basketball season at Wright State, averaged 2.2 points and 1.5 rebounds for the Raiders this past season.
Schoenfeld recently congratulated him on the season in March.
"I think he was enjoying it out there," Schoenfeld said.
The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 9.8 minutes in 32 games this season. He had a season-high nine points against the University of Illinois at Chicago Feb. 24.
Custer signed to play basketball at Wright State in November 2015. Custer knew Wright State was the place he wanted to play after initially being offered a scholarship in early August 2015.
The sharp-shooting forward led Elder to a 22-3 record and a share of the Greater Catholic League South division championship in the 2014-15 season.
Custer's story at Elder was one of perseverance. He did not make the team as a 5-11 freshman guard. But, he put in a great deal of time that summer and made the junior varsity team as a sophomore.
“Freshman year he did not make the team. He was a 5-11, little shooting guard, did not make the freshman team,” Schoenfeld said. “(He) kept working in the off season, grew several inches, made the reserve team, played two years on varsity and started his senior year.”
Schoenfeld said in 2015 Custer spent a lot of time in the gym and in the weight room before he signed with Wright State that November.
Schoenfeld said Wright State was such a natural fit that Custer’s best basketball days were ahead of him.
“If there is any recovery or things that he has to go through here, certainly that toughness that he brought to rebounding and desire to improve and get better will be personal characteristics that will hopefully serve him well,” Schoenfeld said.
Custer is from Delhi Township, and his family is a part of Our Lady of Victory Catholic parish.