08-29-2015, 11:20 PM
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Fan dies after fall at Turner Field during Yankees-Braves, police say
ATLANTA -- A fan has died after falling out of the upper deck of Turner Field during the seventh inning of Saturday's night's New York Yankees-Atlanta Braves game, police said.
The fan was given emergency medical treatment and was taken away on a stretcher after falling. He was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Police said he was in his early 60s. They did not identify him.
Lt. Charles Hampton of the Atlanta Police Department homicide unit said police don't suspect foul play at this point. He said no fans were hurt in the lower level seats where the man fell.
The Braves released a statement saying: "We have received confirmation that the fan involved in an accident at this evening's game has passed away. The Atlanta Braves offer their deepest condolences to the family."
According to witnesses seated in section 401 behind home plate, the fan was screaming at Alex Rodriguez, who had been sent up as a pinch hitter by the Yankees, when he suddenly lost his balance and fell approximately 50 feet to the concrete below, striking a railing on the way down.
There was blood left on the surface around the seats after the man was put on a backboard. A group of stadium medical personnel treated the man for about 10 minutes, applying CPR. As the medical workers worked in a circle around the man, security officers cleared the area.
The game continued as the medical personnel attended to the man, a Braves season-ticket holder, according to a Turner Field usher.
A witness said Braves representatives came around in eighth inning to check on fans and offered them seats in suites, away from where the fan fell.
A witness who asked not to be identified said she was seated a row in front of the man when he began shouting at Rodriguez.
"All of a sudden, he just flew right over the rail,'' she said. "I can't even function right now.''
Turner Field security cleared the area and refused to allow media access to the site of the accident.
"Huge condolences go out to that family," Braves pitcher Matt Wisler said. "You never want to hear something like that. We were all in the dugout paying more attention to that than the game when it first happened. That's terribly sad to hear. We really hope for the best for that family. That's sad to see something tragic like that happen at a game."
Didi Gregorius of the Yankees, who was on second base at the time after having doubled in Brian McCann, said, "I saw him falling, like right in front of the press box. Then he hit the wires. Crazy.''
Gregorius said it was difficult to concentrate on the game after seeing the man fall.
"I was thinking about it the whole time,'' he said. "All I can say is my condolences to the family.''
There was a large contingent of Yankee family members sitting in section 202, right next to the aisle in which the man fell. A Yankees security officer estimated 45 to 50 family members were seated in the section, but none were injured.
McCann, the former Braves catcher who lives in Atlanta, had his wife, mother and children in the section, although his wife and children had left the stadium before the incident.
"My mom was right in the mix, he said. "All our families are up there, so you're just praying for the best. They were close, they were real close. Our hearts go out to the family. It's sickening.''
Some players' family members were escorted to a room near the Braves clubhouse. Many, including Atlanta outfielder Cameron Maybin's son, were crying.
Yankees closer Andrew Miller caught a glimpse of it from the bullpen.
"I mean, most of us saw the net shaking, cause we were all watching Alex come up,'' he said. "I know it was kind of close to where a lot of tickets are left for our families and stuff, so guys were kinda freaked out about that. It's just a bad situation and hopefully everything turns out all right. Thinking about him, praying for him, all that stuff. Terrible situation. I don't know what else to say.''
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.
The man then fell the rest of the way into the seats. The force of the man's weight caused the wires and the mesh netting to shake for several seconds.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he was made aware of the incident from third base umpire Dana DeMuth, and from Yankees third base coach Joe Espada, who made a hand gesture toward the dugout mimicking someone falling.
"I just remember I'm thinking, what does that mean? I didn't understand at first,'' Girardi said. "That's really sad, that something like that could happen at a ballpark.''
Major League Baseball said it had been in contract with the Braves and was monitoring the situation.
The announced crowd of 49,243 was the largest of the season at Turner Field.
This wasn't the first fan fatality at Turner Field. In August 2013, Ronald Lee Homer Jr., 30, fell 85 feet from a walkway on the fourth level of the stadium. Investigators from the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office later ruled that the death was 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 Philadelphia.
In 2008, 25-year-old Justin Hayes fell down a Turner Field stairwell during a game against the Mets. He died of head injuries, and police cited alcohol as a factor.
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