Newton Grove, N.C. — A third-grader died Sunday after a soccer goal fell on his head in Sampson County, at 607 Mt. Olive Drive in Newton Grove.
Maria Escalera says her son, Juan Escalera, 9, was visiting his cousins and decided to play soccer after church.
“My husband said that it happened in less than 2 minutes,” Escalera said, adding that the goal post’s metal bars were not secured. “They yelled and screamed that something had happened to my son, that the goal thing had fallen on top of his head."
Juan died of brain trauma at a local hospital.
“Soccer was one of his favorite sports,” Escalera said. “Only God knows why he took him that way from me."
It’s unclear what caused the goal to fall.
“I mean, it still doesn’t seem right to us. I mean, because the pipes are so heavy. My brother-in-law tried to pick it up, and he couldn’t pick it up himself,” Escalera said. “There are kids who love soccer … and they need to make sure everything is secured correctly.”
Portable soccer goals, which can weigh up to 500 pounds, have killed 36 people in the U.S. since 1979, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Hundreds more have been seriously injured. Many of the cases involved head injuries and often happened when someone was climbing or hanging from the bars.
Goals are supposed to be held down with sand bags or stakes, and referees are required to check that they are before every game.