The death of a 60-year-old Atlanta Braves fans once again raises the question of fan safety at sporting events.
It was a typical night at the ballpark when tragedy struck in the seventh inning at Turner Field in Atlanta. According to reports, as Yankees pinch-hitter Alex Rodriquez approached the batter’s box, many Braves fans, including Gary Murrey, began shouting and booing. Witnesses said Murrey was leaning over the railing in the upper deck behind home plate when he fell over, landing head-first at least 40 feet below. A surgeon sitting near where Murrey fell rushed to give aid, performing CPR for at least ten minutes. Murrey was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he died of his injuries. An investigation is ongoing, but police do not believe foul play was involved.
This incident brings back haunting memories when Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton threw a baseball to a fan. As the man tried to catch the ball for his 6-year-old son, he flipped over the railing, falling 20 feet onto the concrete below. Following the accident, the Rangers immediately decided to raise the height of the railings in their ballpark from 33 inches to 42 inches. Sadly, these tragedies are not isolated to baseball. In 2002, a 13-year-old died of injuries resulting from being struck in her left temple by a deflected puck. The fatality led the NHL to mandate netting behind both goals and around all corners of its rinks.
These are just a few examples of how tragedy can befall any fan, at any sporting event, at any level. Despite raising the railings and adding safety netting, serious injuries and fatalities continue to happen. Critics say more needs to be done. But, nothing less than wrapping each fan in bubble wrap would prevent every injury or death. How much responsibility for safety should lie with fans, who sometimes may lose sight that these are inherently dangerous places if not giving their full attention to the game in play?
For all sports fans, avoid distractions and always assume the ball or puck is coming your way.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.