(Reuters) - A 60-year-old man plunged headfirst to his death from the upper deck of a baseball stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, brushing past wires holding a protective net, according to police and witnesses.
Gregory Murrey, of Alpharetta, Georgia, fell about 40 feet (12 meters) in front of a sellout crowd of 49,000 during a game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees, raising additional questions to an ongoing debate about baseball stadium safety.
He apparently lost his balance as spectators jumped up to boo the Yankees controversial star, Alex Rodriguez, who was walking up to bat, a witness told a local newspaper.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution quoted a fan, Marty Burns, who saw the man fall, saying, “When they called A-Rod coming to bat, he got all excited, and his momentum took him over (the railing).”
The cause of his fall had not been determined but no foul play is suspected, Atlanta police spokesman Greg Lyon said in a statement.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said it was conducting an investigating and was waiting for a toxicology report.
The Braves issued a statement offering condolences to the Murrey family. A moment of silence was observed before Sunday afternoon’s game for Murrey, described by the Braves as a season-ticket holder and “an incredibly passionate” fan. His photo was also displayed on a giant stadium videoboard.
Major League Baseball is studying the issue of stadium safety design after several people were hurt by foul balls and flying bats.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week that MLB had discussed with club owners adding more protective netting in ballparks next season.
Manfred did not specifically address fans falling from the seating areas.
There have been a handful of similar incidents in recent years.
In 2011 a baseball fan died in Texas after falling over the outfield fence trying to reach for a ball thrown by a player on the field.
The Braves stadium, Turner Field, is due to be demolished in after the team leaves in 2016 for a new venue.
Reporting by David Adams in Miami; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Marguerita Choy