Jan 29, 2015Baseball Fatalities Spotlighted
Although baseball is normally seen as a low-risk sport, a handful of tragedies over the past few months have shone a spotlight on safety on the diamond. Here is a review of some of those accidents, along with news of a family that has won a lawsuit, years after their son’s death.
At the end of October, in Rhode Island, a 20 year-old college student collapsed during baseball practice, and died from unknown causes a few days later. Pitcher Joe Ciancola had recently transferred to the University of Rhode Island from Winthrop College. After he collapsed at practice, he received hospital care for heat stroke and other complications. WPRI news reported that the cause of death is still unknown. An autopsy was performed, but found inconclusive results.
According to a source with the Milford-Orange Bulletin, after initially having a temperature of 105.9,
“Ciancola lost his kidney and liver functions and was put into a medically induced coma. Ciancola went into cardiac arrest Wednesday night, but was revived. He died around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.”
Earlier in October, a high school senior at Ribault High School in Florida died after a batted ball ricocheted and hit his head as he was ducking for cover. Seventeen year-old Gregory Green was pitching behind a screen during batting practice when he was hit. The ball ricocheted off the screen’s frame and hit Green’s head. Although he was conscious after being hit, the NY Daily News reports that he died three days later.
This summer, in Arizona, a ball hit a little league player in the chest during a game, which caused a change in his heart’s rhythm and was followed by cardiac arrest. The NY Daily News reports that 13 year-old Hayden Walton died the day after his accident, due to commotio cordis.
According to the Daily News:
“The tragic freak incident happened when Hayden Walton took an inside pitch straight to his chest as he was trying to get the short hit off, according to a Winslow Little League official. After taking two steps, he collapsed in front of a horrified crowd that included his parents.”
Commotio cordis occurs after the chest is hit, without physically damaging the heart. According to an article in Athletic Management, 80 percent of reported commotio cordis cases have occurred in athletes younger than 18 years old. This article reports, “treatment of commotio cordis requires a quick response and AED on site. The Commotio Cordis Registry reported that 25 percent of those who received resuscitative measures in less than four minutes survived while in 38 cases of delayed resuscitation only one person survived.”
After almost seven years, the parents of a deceased high school baseball player have been awarded over $800,000 for their son’s death by a Hillsborough (Fla.) jury. According to the Saint Petersburg Times, 17 year-old Matthew Miulii was cleared to play in preseason workouts, despite having a pre-existing heart condition. Miulli collapsed after running a mile on a track during a practice, and was pronounced dead shortly after. The cause of death was congenital aortic valve disease.
A cardiologist had notified Miulli’s doctor–after clearance had been given–that he should not participate in running or weight-lifting practices. Miulli’s doctor claims that he tried to relay the message to his patient’s family several times, but was not able to contact them. Bay News 9 reports,
“the settlement is complex and holds the Hillsborough County School District only five percent responsible for Miulli’s death. The lawsuit includes Miulli’s pediatrician and even his parents saying they were also to blame.”
Along with creating scrutiny over high school sports’ physical screening process, since this tragedy, the Florida High School Athletic Association has required defibrillators be present at high school sporting events.
Kristin Maki is an Editorial Assistant at Training & Conditioning.