News and Tribune

Local Sports

May 19, 2007

KELLY: Collapsing goalposts can prove to be tragic

Winchester United were on the attack during a U11 soccer scrimmage in Virginia last week when everyone’s attention was diverted to a loud crashing noise at the opposite end of the field.

What they saw horrified them.

Ten-year-old goalkeeper Hayden Barnes Ellias was lying motionless on the ground after the portable goal had collapsed on him at the Millbrook High School field.

Hayden’s father, a nurse, rushed to his son’s aid, attempting CPR. However, the blunt trauma caused to his head and neck were too much for him to survive.

How it happened, nobody seems to know.

It was the 31st reported death in the United States from injuries sustained by soccer goals since a database was established in 1979. There have also been hundreds of injuries — some serious — in that time.

The 27th of those was the death of 6-year-old Zachary Tran in Vernon Hills, Ill., on Oct. 1, 2003.

Described by his family as a “vibrant, funny and active” child who loved hockey and snowboarding, Zack had played soccer since age 4, but only because his friends did too. He was a member of the Maroon Raccoons, part of the Greater Libertyville Soccer Association.

His mother Michelle says she remembers the day as vividly as it were yesterday.

“It was my turn for the soccer run and I drove Zack and two friends to soccer practice,” she recalls. “They ran out to their coach on the field, and one little boy needed to use the restroom so I took him. When I came back out, I saw the goal post over Zack and another boy had his leg stuck under it. Nobody really knows how it happened.”

The 18-by-6-foot, 186 pound-goal struck Zachery on the back of the head and paramedics were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital less than an hour later. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest due to massive head injuries.

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