WHEATON, Ill. (AP) — A college student has died after being struck during a hammer-throw event at a track meet in suburban Chicago.
A coroner has listed head trauma as the preliminary cause of death of a college student who died after being struck during a hammer-throw event at a track-and-field meet near Chicago.
The DuPage County Coroner’s office says in a news release that it reached the preliminary finding after conducting an autopsy on the body of 19-year-old Ethan Roser.
Wheaton Police Deputy Chief Bill Murphy said Monday that 19-year-old Ethan Roser had volunteered at the meet and was going to mark the distances of the throws when he was struck in the head by the metal ball of the thrown hammer.
The college says Roser was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where he was pronounced dead.
The hammer used in such competitions is a metal ball attached to a steel wire. The athlete holds a grip at the other end of the wire and spins several times before releasing it. The hammer weighs as much as 16 pounds.
Murphy says the Wheaton College freshman was standing near the area where the metal balls land, but not in it.
He says that the department is investigating the death to determine if there was criminal negligence, but that there is no evidence yet showing that there was.
Murphy told the Chicago Tribune, the throw that struck Roser appeared to be “off-angle,” and that the freshman transfer student was outside the lines marking the area where the hammer was supposed to land.
“Things like this are not supposed to happen (during the event),” he said. “What broke down at this point, I don’t know.”
NCAA rules require that hammer throw competitions use a safety cage that partially surrounds the thrower, and is meant to keep the weight from traveling off course. Wheaton College has one standing in a corner of Lawson Field, where the event took place.
But the rules themselves emphasize that the hammer throw can still be dangerous.
“Cage design is acknowledged to provide limited protection for spectators, officials and competitors,” the NCAA track and field rule book says. “It does not ensure safety.”
Other details about the accident weren’t immediately released.
Roser was from Cincinnati, Ohio, but spent much of his childhood in Zimbabwe, where his parents were missionaries.
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