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HomeNewsSportsTragedy at Turner Field: Fan Dies After Falling From Upper Deck

Tragedy at Turner Field: Fan Dies After Falling From Upper Deck

Turner-Field-fan-falls
Turner-Field-fan-falls

Aug. 29, 2015: Rescue workers carry an injured fan from the stands at Turner Field during a baseball game between Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees in Atlanta. (Photo: AP/John Bazemore)

Police say a fan died after falling from the upper deck into the lower-level stands at Turner Field during Saturday’s game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees. Atlanta Police Department homicide unit Lt. Charles Hampton confirmed the man’s death just hours after the fall in the seventh inning of the ball game.

Lt. Hampton said the man was in his early 60s and died at Grady Memorial Hospital, though he did not speak to his identity pending notification of his next of kin. Police don’t suspect foul play at this point, Hampton said, and according to the witnesses the man was shouting at Alex Rodriguez before he fell, though PPD has not confirmed that story. However, the fall occurred immediately after the introduction of Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning.

No other fans were hurt in the area where the man fell from section 401. He landed close to a 200-level area where the players’ lives and families sit to watch the game. Blood was seen on the concrete surface around the seats. Medical personnel at Turner Field attempted to treat and administer CPR to the man for about 10 minutes as security guards cleared the area. The fan was taken from the seating area on a backboard, and transported to the hospital.

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius was standing on second base, following his double, when he saw the man fell.

“I was thinking about it the whole time,” Gregorius said after the Yankees won 3-1. “All I can say is my condolences to the family. It was right in front of the camera in the press box. He hit the wires.”

Adam Staudacher, a nearby fan who attended the game at Turner Field with his girlfriend, was returning to his seats near the location where the fan fell. Staudacher, 33, from Virginia Highlands, Georgia, said he believes the fan landed head first on a 3-foot-wide walkway between sections. He said roughly 20 EMTs immediately surrounded the fan, who did not appear to be moving at any time, and began doing CPR, estimating they treated him for “five to seven minutes” before taking him away.

“There were a ton of kids right there,” he said. “It was a disturbing scene. Disturbing doesn’t really go far enough.”

Staudacher said Braves representatives came around in eighth inning to check on fans and offered them seats in suites, away from where the fan fell. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball said it had been in contract with the Braves and was monitoring the situation. The Braves released a statement on the tragedy shortly after.

“The Atlanta Braves offer their deepest condolences to the family,” the team said in a statement.

Two fans died at major league games in 2011 and MLB has been studying the issue of fan safety in the wake of several people being hurt by foul balls, flying bats and other instances of falls. While some players have called for more protective netting around the field, the courts have repeatedly ruled that the safety of the fans are their own responsibility. In fact, past falls at Turner Field can all be traced back to either fan error or intentional action.

A fan died at Turner Field in August 2013, after he fell 85 feet from a walkway on the fourth level. But the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office investigators ruled the death of Ronald Lee Homer Jr., 30, a suicide. Police said Homer, of Conyers, Georgia, landed in the players’ parking lot after a rain delay during a game between the Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies.

In 2011, a 27-year-old man died after he fell roughly 20 feet and hit his head on concrete during a Colorado Rockies home game. Witnesses told police the man was trying to slide down a staircase railing at Coors Field and lost his balance.

Meanwhile, at Turner Field Saturday, a woman went to the Braves dugout and told catcher A.J. Pierzynski about what had occurred while some family members were escorted to a room near the Braves clubhouse. Many, including Atlanta outfielder Cameron Maybin’s son, were crying.

“None of our family guys got hurt other than there were some young children there that got to see stuff that’s not real nice,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

A security guard at the holding room for family members said witnesses saw the man trying to hang onto a wire that runs from the protective net behind the plate to under the press box. He then fell the rest of the way into the seats, and the force of the man’s weight during the fall caused the wires and the mesh netting to shake for several seconds.

“That’s terrible,” Braves pitcher Matt Wisler said. “You never want to hear something like that. We’re all in the dugout paying more attention to that than we were the game when it first happened.”

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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