Football Standout Who Became Research Subject After Spinal Injury Dies At 28

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Chad Johnson, a former high school athlete involved in spinal injury research after being paralyzed in 1995, has died at the age of 28.

Johnson appears to have died in his sleep at his North Ridgeville home on Friday. The Cuyahoga County coroner has not yet determined a cause of death but his family said that he died from a breathing or sleeping disorder.

Johnson was an all-conference defensive end at Olmsted Falls and was one of his school's top weightlifters.

A few weeks before the end of his sophomore year at Kent State, he damaged the vertebrae in his neck when he slid into a muddy pit during a tug-of-war. The accident left him a quadriplegic.

The next year, Johnson had an experimental electronic device implanted in his chest and arm, which let him grasp small objects.

Johnson attended many medical conferences and appeared on television to demonstrate the implant.

Johnson is survived by his parents and four siblings.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)