Mary Ellias and her husband were watching their son Hayden playing a big soccer game.
It was the year 2008, and it was a beautiful day. Hayden absolutely love playing soccer. He dreamed of becoming a pro soccer player when he grew up. There was nothing he loved more than being on the field. It was a close game and every move mattered. The crowd was glued to the ball as it bounced between players. Hayden managed to pull off a crucial play by blocking a shot and kicking the ball all the way to the middle of the field. As the crowd followed the ball across the field, there was a big crash at Hayden’s goal. That’s when the crowd witnessed the unthinkable.
When we looked down the field, there he was under the goal. The frame had fallen over on him
The goal had broken Hayden’s neck and he was struggling to stay alive. Mary had no idea but she was watching her son pass away. As she recounts the tragic event with WTAE News, Mary still fights back tears almost 10 years afterwards. Truly heartbreaking to see her in pain.
After Hayden’s death, Mary Ellias dedicated herself to a promise she made to her son in the ambulance before he passed away. She was going to make sure this incident never happened again to any child.
Never ever would [I] have ever dreamed that there was a danger lying right there, every day. Just didn’t know it.
Hayden is among 38 individuals, between the ages of 4 and 31 that have sadly died to goals since 1979. Not only have 39 people died, but another 57 people have suffered serious injuries.
Every goal that is made and sent to schools comes with warning stickers on the goal itself, as well as instructions on how to best secure them to prevent exactly these types of incidents.Sadly, as revealed by this excellent investigative reporting, far too many schools are not securing the goals properly, posing a danger to every child on the soccer field.
The way the goals are designed makes them susceptible to tipping over due to being lightweight in the back and heavy in the front. This is why every goal comes with anchors that will prevent them from tipping over.
But when this investigative reporting team went to schools across western Pennsylvania they were shocked. Most of the goals were not anchored or were held down by sandbags that were actually empty. Mere feet away from the reporters there were children playing soccer who had no idea of the danger these pose.
We hope that the schools all responded properly to these amazing investigative journalism so that stories like Hayden’s will never happen again. Our hearts go out to Mary Ellias.