A man touring a Dutch castle died after he was hit with a 22-pound metal ball thrown by a competitor at the Open Highland Games.
East Brabant Police said the 65-year-old Geldrop local died Sunday, “after being hit by a metal ball in use at a sporting event.”
The man was touring the Geldrop Castle gardens in the southeastern Netherlands when the ball went over a wall and struck him, killing him instantly, The Sun reported.
“The pendulum dropped, we saw the ball go over the hedge and then we heard a woman screaming very loudly,” said one witness.
“It wasn’t a spectator … so he didn’t see the ball coming at all.”
Emergency services rushed to the scene while event organizers attempted CPR, but the victim — who was not publicly identified — could not be saved. The sporting event was then cancelled.
The throwing event is a traditional part of the Highland games originating in Scotland and involves a competitor swinging a “hammer” around their head before letting go and seeing how far it reaches.
“We are flabbergasted that something like this can happen,” said organizer Adri Geerts, chairman of the Foundation Village Marketing Geldrop-Mierlo.
“You don’t expect it, it’s the biggest disaster that can happen to all of us. We’re devastated.”
According to witnesses, the athlete who threw the ball was one of the top competitors in the sport.
“The boy who swung the ball was completely upset,” one person said.
“He was not a rookie, but really a top player, who had already participated in big competitions before.”
Geerts said all the competitors were distraught over the death and were being provided with services. He said he has not spoken to the athlete who threw the hammer.
“I haven’t spoken to him myself, but he’s completely beside himself, this should never have happened to him,” Geerts said.
“They are players who practice this game internationally at a high level and with a lot of experience and are extremely experienced, but then apparently an accident can happen,” he added.
Deputy Mayor Hans van de Laar released a statement offering condolences to the family.
“We are all very affected by this terrible accident. Our condolences go out to the bereaved families,” Laar said.
Netherland police are investigating.
With Post wires