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Hayden’s Story
By Mary Ellias, Hayden’s Mom

Soccer goals can be dangerous! They can injure, cripple, and kill. We know first hand. Our son was killed by an unanchored goal.

Hayden was our son and he was Collin and Alannaís brother. Now heís no longer here. How do you explain to your children that their brother is dead because a soccer goal was not properly anchored? Unfortunately, this wasnít freak accident. This happens all too often and most incidents donít get reported. There have been 32 reported deaths resulting from soccer goal tip overs, most of which occurred at a practice.

It was Monday, May 7, 2007. We left our house rushing out the door yelling at all the kids that we were going to be late if they didnít hurry up. Dinner was sitting on the stove for us to eat when we returned home. Little did we know that was the last we would see of that life of which we were so familiar. We arrived at the soccer field where Hayden was scheduled to have a scrimmage with another travel soccer team. We barely got the car in park and off he rushed to the field to play his favorite game. Iím not even sure if I said anything to him when he ran off. Maybe I said something like make sure you have your bag or do you have your water? That was the last time I would be able to say anything to him and hear a response like OK Mamma.

Hayden was able to play in his scrimmage in other positions besides goalie. He scored the first goal of the game. As time went on, it was his turn to play goalie. This was nothing unusual as he shared the position of goalie with another player. Hayden had made a couple of saves in the short time he was in goal. Then came the last play we remember, Hayden saved a goal and kicked the ball to the other end of the field. It was such a nice, high kick that all eyes were on the ball. Thatís when my familyís world was turned upside down. There was a noise that didnít quite register, but I turned towards the noise, as did everyone else at that moment. What I remember seeing was our son lying face down lifeless on the ground.

I watched in slow motion as my husband, Greg, ran to him. I saw Collin running toward me crying, and Alanna looking to see what was going on. I held them close telling them it would be OK. I vaguely remember dialing 911 to tell the dispatcher my son was on the ground and a goal fell on him. I donít think at that time I truly understood what was happening. I remember the looks on peopleís faces around me, reading every one of them, I knew it was serious. They tried to stop me from going to him, but I knew he needed his Mommy. When I got to Hayden, Greg was covered in his blood, and others were franticly helping. I could hear what sounded like echoes of people saying things like ďheís not breathing,Ē ďI donít have a pulse!Ē Then as clear as the day I heard Hayden cry when he was born, I heard a silence. Greg, who is a registered nurse, looked up to me and said, ďitís bad Mary, itís real bad!Ē

Greg rode in the ambulance with Hayden to the hospital. Another parent, an off duty police officer, drove me. Other friends took Collin and Alanna home where my best friend awaited their arrival. On the ride to the hospital, I made as many calls as I could to inform friends and family of Haydenís incident. When we arrived at the hospital, it was as though my legs forgot how to walk. I finally walked in the hospital with the help of Brian, the officer. I was greeted by one of Haydenís teammateís mom whose face spoke a thousands sorrows. She stayed with us as I was escorted to a special room. That is where I saw Greg sitting on a couch, helpless, his arms being washed of Haydenís blood by a nurse that was there at the field with us. I heard him remind another nurse that Hayden would need some blood as he lost a lot on the field. I knew in that moment what I was going to hear the doctor say. It was less than 1 hour from when the goal tipped over that the doctor entered our room and told us our son, Collin and Alannaís brother, had died.

Thatís the story we relive every day of our lives. With that story is the knowledge that if the soccer goal had been properly anchored or designed not to tip over, we would still have our precious Hayden and his warm smile. We were ignorant to the danger even though we walked right next to a goal that evening.

I have since learned how many of these accidents have occurred. Itís our mission, ďHaydenís Goal,Ē to spread the word about anchoring goals and using non-tipable goals. Referees, coaches, managers, players and especially parents need to know what they can do to prevent another tragedy like Haydenís.

As parents, we know itís our job to protect our children everyday. Why should this be any different? If you have read this story, you now know how terribly wrong things can go when simple measures arenít followed. It is our duty as referees, coaches, managers and parents to ensure safety on the soccer field.

We should empower our children with the knowledge of soccer goal safety. Let them know they have the right to speak up and tell a coach if they feel a goal is not properly secured. Let the coaches know to heed their warning. This is their precious life we are talking about, and no game, no practice is worth risking their safety.

© Copyright 2005 Anchored For Safety.

AFS is an initiative of the Zachary Tran Memorial Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing youth access to worthwhile educational, athletic and artistic activities, and advancing the education of the general public on the dangers of unanchored soccer goals and promoting overall soccer goal safety. Click here for legal disclaimers.