Student breaks leg, receives surgery after rushing the field at BYU vs. Utah game
Minutes before the final whistle blew at the Sept. 11 BYU vs. Utah game, students piled up to the front of the stands to rush the field. Fans herded the rows forward to the barrier, positioning students on the edge of more than a six-foot drop to the field. The accident took only a matter of seconds. Ethan Monlux stepped on the railing, felt a push from behind and in a panic jumped to avoid a free fall.
He landed on his right foot with a crack. Dazed and laying on the field, Ethan looked down to see his foot turned inward.
It was Ethan’s first BYU football game. He and his wife Courtney stood in the student section, anxiously watching as the rain poured down and the drought finally ended; BYU beat Utah 26-17. Before the game began they decided if BYU won, they’d rush the field.
Courtney grew up going to BYU games and even rushed the field with her family years before. But for both her and Ethan, this was their first time rushing the field in the student section. For the Monluxes, the crowd in the student section felt much different than the rest of the stadium.
“I was shaking in like fear out of how aggressive the students were,” Courtney said. “With all of my strength I was pushing backwards on the students behind me so that I could stay upright and I wasn’t pushed forward and trampled.”
In order to jump over the wall that separates fans and the field, there are two different barriers. Ethan remembers the section as a first railing, followed by about a footlong gap and then another barrier. According to BYU’s athletics department, the drop from the student section to the field is about 6-foot, 6 inches.
According to the BYU Fan Code-of-Conduct, “Only authorized and properly credentialed personnel will be permitted on the playing field before, during or after a football game. Any unauthorized person who enters the playing field will face a fine and ejection from the stadium.”
Students are not allowed to rush the field, but there are times when it happens, like Saturday when the rivalry game was won and a nine-year losing streak was broken.
As the fans pushed Ethan and his wife toward the barrier, Ethan prepared to jump.
“I tried to get up and kinda stepped on the first bar and then stepped on the second one and then I just basically got shoved off and just landed on my foot wrong and broke it,” Ethan said.
Ethan immediately knew something was wrong. In shock, he pushed the bone in his leg back in place. That’s when he caught the attention of two other students that jumped down to storm the field. They lifted him to a golf cart near the football tunnel to prevent him from being trampled then left before Courtney returned.
Event staff and EMTs quickly came to the scene and called an ambulance. At the hospital, the doctors confirmed Ethan fractured his right fibula and tore his ligaments. Days after the diagnosis, doctors performed an hour-long surgery to repair the damage, placing a plate and seven screws in his leg.
Ethan is out of work for the next two to three weeks while recovering. The couple already paid their insurance deductible this year so their current expenses will be covered. But doctors said he may require a follow-up surgery in 2022, which means the couple’s deductible would reset and they would spend upwards of thousands in medical expenses.
“If there is a follow up, there’s no way we can afford that,” Ethan said.
The Code-of-Conduct says guests at LaVell Edwards Stadium are expected to, “Respect and appreciate each other. Treat all individuals in a professional and courteous manner. Refrain from disruptive or unruly behavior, including foul or abusive language and obscene gestures.”
For Courtney, who’s rushed the crowd with her family in past games, the celebration is practically tradition.
“If there is a team we haven’t defeated in a while or a high-profile team or you know one of our big rivals… yeah, it’s a ritual. We rush the field to celebrate,” Courtney said.
Attempts to reach BYU athletic communication officials for a comment were unsuccessful. Ethan and Courtney plan to go back to football games in the future, but not in the student section.