Hamburg football player focus of second investigation

Hamburg's Joseph Cominsky is tackled by Annville-Cleona's Trace Seiple during the first half of the football game on Sept. 6 at Annville-Cleona High School. (Photo by Jeremy Long/ Lebanon Daily News)

A high-school football player who is under investigation in Lebanon County for ripping an opponent’s helmet off and apparently striking him with it during a game is now under investigation for an incident in Berks County.

Multiple media outlets have reported that Berks County District Attorney John Adams has opened an investigation into an incident involving Hamburg High School football player Joseph Cominsky after a video emerged of Cominsky throwing a football at a defenseless teammate during practice.

The mother of a former teammate of Cominsky provided the video to NBC-10 in Philadelphia. It appears to show Cominsky throwing a football at another Hamburg player’s stomach while the player was standing against a wall and holding an object in front of his face. The video also appears to show Hamburg coach Joe Sinkovich directing Cominsky to throw the ball at the player.

“We have been provided a copy of the video and we are investigating this incident,” Adams stated in an email on Tuesday.

According to NBC-10, a former player at Hamburg shot the video on his cell phone, and eventually his mother, Karen Hoagland, viewed the footage.

“He told him to throw the ball at the boy’s chest or stomach, knowing how fast the quarterback throws,” Hoagland told the station. “He allowed four more balls to be thrown until it hit the kid. To me, he’s putting kids’ lives at risk every day when something like that is allowed to go on.”

Hoagland said she initially had no intention of making the video public but changed her mind when she saw video of the incident involving Cominsky in Lebanon County.

Cominsky, a senior who plays quarterback and safety, is under investigation in South Annville Township for an incident that occurred during a football game on Sept. 6 at Annville-Cleona High School.

In a video of the incident taken by WGAL TV-8, Cominsky can be seen ripping the helmet off Annville-Cleona junior offensive lineman Josh Hartman and twice swinging the helmet at Hartman. With the second swing, Cominsky appears to strike Hartman squarely on his head with the helmet while Hartman was lying on his back.

Cominsky was ejected from the game. Per PIAA rules, he was automatically suspended from his team’s next game.

South Annville Township police Chief Ben Sutcliffe announced on Sept. 10 that he had opened a criminal investigation into the matter but said it would be a lengthy investigation.

Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold said there is precedent for prosecuting athletes for incidents that occur during sporting events.

Hoagland told NBC-10 she believes the new video suggests that Sinkovich has created a violent culture for his team that indirectly led to the fight at Annville-Cleona.

“I think if the coaches would be held more accountable for what happened, this stuff wouldn’t happen on the field,” she said.

Information from the Lebanon Daily News, www.ldnews.com