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Fan dies after fall

Associated Press / July 8, 2011

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ARLINGTON, Texas - A man attending a Rangers game with his young son died after falling out of the stands and about 20 feet to the ground while trying to catch a baseball tossed his way last night, the Rangers and Arlington fire officials said.

Arlington Fire Department officials said in a statement that another fan nearby tried to grab the man to keep him from falling. They said the victim’s son did not fall.

“We had a very tragic accident tonight and one of our fans lost their life reaching over the rail trying to get a ball,’’ team president Nolan Ryan said. “As an organization, and as our team members and our staff, we’re very heavy-hearted about this.’’

A very somber Ryan didn’t get into details about the accident or release the man’s name.

Ronnie Hargis was sitting in the stands at Rangers Ballpark next to the victim.

“He went straight down. I tried to grab him but I couldn’t,’’ Hargis said.

TV replays showed the man falling headfirst and landing behind a 14-foot-high wall supporting a video board. The area where the man fell is out of sight from the field.

It is the second fatal fall at an MLB ballpark this season. In May, a 27-year-old man died after he fell about 20 feet during a Colorado Rockies game. The accident in Texas occurred in the second inning of the Rangers’ 6-0 win after Oakland’s Conor Jackson hit a foul ball that ricocheted into left field. Josh Hamilton retrieved the ball and tossed it into the stands. Replays on Oakland’s TV broadcast show the man reaching for the ball and apparently catching it before tumbling.

“They had him on a stretcher,’’ A’s reliever Brad Ziegler said. “He said, ‘Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself.’ The people who carried him out reassured him. ‘Sir, we’ll get your son, we’ll make sure he’s OK.’ He talked and was conscious. We assumed he was OK.’’

Former president George W. Bush was sitting with Ryan when the accident happened.

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