A Central Penn College student, Angel Mercado-Ocasio, died after a makeshift dugout collapsed on top of him. The unfortunate incident took place at 7th and Radnor Sports Park in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Monday, May 22, as the 19-year-old, along with his teammates, was taking down the illegal structure.
Mercado was playing in a Harrisburg youth international league game prior to the accident. His coach, Gerardo Diaz performed CPR for three minutes on the student-athlete, who was then rushed to a local hospital. He remained in critical condition for a day before he succumbed to his injury.
Diaz told on-scene reporters that the kids were "fooling around" before the dugout collapsed. Claiming responsibility for the incident, Diaz stated:
"I tried my best to protect him...I got mad at them. I told them to stop playing around, but kids will be kids. I still feel responsible."
According to Daily Mail, Diaz was responsible for building the wooden dugout. But after receiving instructions from the city to raze the structure, he took it down without arguing. However, he stated that "taking it down cost my kids their life."
Cumberland County coroner ruled Angel Mercado's death as an accident
According to a spokesperson for the city, Matt Maisel, the temporary dugout was built without necessary permission by the local youth baseball team, and added that the city authorities asked them to "take it down."
He explained that anyone who wanted to build something on city property had to first be "contracted by the city." The freshman was one of the people who volunteered to help.
However, Fox 43 alleged that there is more to Angel Mercado's death than meets the eye.
The Radnor Sports Park is one of several public parks in the city that are in need of improvement. The channel added that in October 2022, the city of Harrisburg was awarded a $13 million grant to address the matter but no tangible action was taken.
Alyssa Kratz of Fox 43 also added that no legal action has been taken in relation to the incident as yet and the City, too, would not pursue any action of its own against the coach or the players.
The event was unrelated to Central Penn College's baseball team which released a statement on Wednesday, mourning the loss of the star athlete:
"We are mourning the heart-wrenching loss of one of our own, a promising young athlete who senselessly lost his life while helping others enjoy the sport he loved so much... No words can adequately express our anguish."
According to the college's website, Angel Mercado was a shortstop and second baseman and sported the number #25 on his jersey.
Central Penn president Linda Fedrizzi-Williams too shared her condolences with Angel Mercado's family. She added that the college has made counselors available for grieving students and staff members.
A GoFundMe page was set up by Robert Stern on behalf of Angel Mercado's family to cover his funeral service and medical costs. It has raised over $8,500 since it was launched.
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