A college pole vaulter died earlier this week after missing the landing pad during practice at the University of California-San Diego. Leon Roach, 19, landed head first on concrete during a training jump Saturday. Roach immediately became unresponsive and was later pronounced brain dead at the hospital. A similar tragedy occurred just over a year ago near Seattle, Wash., when a high school athlete was critically injured. Ryan Moberg, 18, died after sustaining head and neck injuries when he missed the mat and landed on the ground during an indoor practice at DeSales Catholic High School.
It is just these types of injuries that previously led the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina to label the pole vault the most dangerous sporting event. Reviewing statistics from 1983 to 2000, there were thousands of injuries, but most shocking was the fact there was an average of one pole vault-related death a year.
These types of stories are all too common. In 2005, head injuries sustained from a failed vault took the life of 16-year-old Floridian Jesus Quesada. Penn State vaulter Kevin Dare, 19, died after a fall during the Big Ten Conference Championships. Samoa Fili II, 17, died of head injuries from a fall suffered while his father videotaped him competing for Wichita (Kan.) Southeast High School.
Since his son’s death, Ed Dare has been campaigning for helmets to become mandatory for all scholastic vaulters. Legislation is pending in some states to do exactly that, but there is resistance from some who say a specific vaulting helmet doesn’t exist or there is no proof helmets won’t cause new problems.
The pole vault is most dangerous due to the heights that are reached and the level of skill and difficulty that is involved to pull it off. Heights cleared commonly reach 15 feet for high school boys and the world’s top women, while 19 feet is reached for the world’s elite men. Often when a vault goes awry, the vaulter falls backward, completely out of control, and is unable to protect himself. In addition to head injuries, it is also very common to see fractures of the arms and legs as the vaulter hits the ground.
Should a loved on be the vicitm of a catastrophic injury please contact Steven Peck’s Premier Legal toll free at 1-866-999-9085 to talk to an experienced catastrophic personal injury attorney and visit us on line at www.premierlegal.org
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.