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Ranger fan dies from fall at Rangers Ballpark

According to the Associated Press, a Rangers’ fan died Thursday night after falling 20 feet while attempting to catch a baseball. The fan, identified as Shannon Stone, 39, of Brownwood Texas, worked 18 years for the Brownwood Fire Department as a lieutenant.

"We are deeply saddened that the man who fell has passed away as a result of this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family," Rangers president Nolan Ryan said in a statement after the game.

The accident happened behind the left-field scoreboard about 7:30 p.m. in the second inning. The ball was not a foul ball, but was tossed by Josh Hamilton into the stands after a foul ball from Oakland's Conor Jackson ricocheted into left field.

Stone did not die immediately from the fall, but "went into full (cardiac) arrest" in an ambulance and was pronounced dead less than an hour after the accident at 8:26 p.m.

Fans who were near the man attempted to grab him. Ronnie Hargis, who was with his son at the game said, "He went straight down. I tried to grab him, but I couldn't.”

Onlookers reported he was conscious when they put him on the stretcher, reporting that he asked someone to ‘Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself.' Many assumed he would be okay because he was talking and awake when the paramedics loaded him into the ambulance.

The Ranger team is upset about Stone’s death, according to the Star-Telegram, especially Josh Hamilton. "We spoke to the ballclub," Nolan Ryan said, "so they understood what had happened, and we spoke to Josh. . . . As any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this, as the entire team is."

This is not the first death this season. In May, another fan, a 27-year-old man, died after striking his head on the concrete after a 20 foot fall at a Colorado Rockies game. He was not attempting to catch a foul ball but was sliding down a stair railing and lost his balance.

Stone is also not the first fan to fall out of the stands at the Rangers Ballpark. A firefighter from Corinth, Texas, Tyler Morris, also fell 30 feet last July from the second deck, fracturing his skull and spraining his ankle.

Nolan Ryan refused to discuss the accident or potential improvements that may be made to Rangers Stadium to make it safer for fans.

Personal Injury at Sporting Events

Historically, courts have operated under the premise that the spectator “assumes the risk” of attending a baseball game, in fact, many sporting tickets have a warning declaring that there are inherent dangers in attending the game.

If this man’s family does choose to file a personal injury claim against the Rangers they may have to prove one of the following (1) the person is situated behind a screen, backstop, or similar device is defective (in a manner other than width or height) because of the negligence of the owner or operator of the baseball facility; or (2) the injury is caused by willful and wanton conduct, in connection with the game of baseball, of the owner or operator or any baseball player, coach or manager employed by the coach or operator.

In many cases, the court has refused to award damages to spectators who were in their seats when the game was in progress. The courts generally agree with the argument that the plaintiff has accepted the assumption of risk to attend the game.

If you are one of the more than 15 million Americans attend sporting events each year, you must be aware of the inherent dangers and not make the false assumption that the owner or operator of the sports venue is ensuring your safety.

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