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Firefighter Shannon Stone Dies Trying To Catch A Ball At A Texas Rangers Game

Submitted by on July 8, 2011 – 11:40 amOne Comment
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As is customary in baseball, when a ball in play heads straight for the bleachers, fans off all ages always to catch it. Catching that ball can be greatest moment of the game for a fan.

Texas Rangers player Josh Hamilton is known for throwing foul balls into the stands. But this time, things don’t always go so well. According to WFAA.com:

Shannon Stone, who was at the game with his young son, caught the ball but tumbled over a railing and plunged 20 feet onto concrete. The 39-year-old firefighter from Brownwood died at a hospital a short time later, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office said.

Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler was in the visitor’s bullpen in left-center field, not far from where Stone fell. When Stone was put on a stretcher, Ziegler said, the firefighter told his tenders that his son was “up there by himself” and asked them to check on the boy.

“He had his arms swinging. He talked and was conscious, “Ziegler said. “We assumed he was OK. But when you find out he’s not, it’s just tough.”

Ronnie Hargis was sitting next to Stone in the first row of seats in left field and the men had been talking before the accident. Hargis said he reached out to try to grab Stone, who fell headfirst through a gap of several feet that is between the seats and the 14-foot-high outfield wall.

“He went straight down. I tried to grab him, but I couldn’t,” Hargis said. “I tried to slow him down a little bit.”

There was an audible gasp in the stands at Rangers Ballpark when Stone tumbled over the rail, sliding awkwardly between the wall and seats has a handful of fans watched him fall. The little boy, like his dad wearing a cap in the bright sun, was behind the firefighter as he tipped over the railing.

Unfortunately, injuries sustained while catching foul balls is seems to be happening more often.

The accident was eerily similar to one almost exactly a year earlier. Another firefighter fell about 30 feet from the second-deck of seats down the right-field line while trying to catch a foul ball on July 6, 2010. Tyler Morris, a firefighter from the Lake Cities Fire Department near Dallas, fractured his skull and sprained an ankle last year when he dropped onto seats where other fans were sitting.

It was the second fatal fall at a major league stadium this season. In May, a 27-year-old man died after he fell about 20 feet and struck his head on concrete during a Colorado Rockies game. Witnesses told police that the man had been trying to slide down a staircase railing at Coors Field and lost his balance during a game against Arizona.

Team president Nolan Ryan released a statement saying “We had a very tragic accident tonight and one of our fans lost their life reaching over the rail trying to get a ball…As an organization, and as our team members and our staff, we’re very heavy-hearted about this, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.” According to Ryan, Hamilton is understandably “very distraught over this, as the entire team is. “Many are now questioning the safety of the stadium. “Tonight, we’re not prepared to speak about anything further than the accident and the tragedy,” Ryan said. “That’s where I’m going to leave it.”

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