Fan Who Died at Rangers Game, is Laid to Rest

By: From CNN
By: From CNN
Police and fans look over the railing where a fan fell from the stands during the second inning of a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics, Thursday, July 7, 2011,  in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffery Washington)

Police and fans look over the railing where a fan fell from the stands during the second inning of a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics, Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffery Washington)

BROWNWOOD, Texas (CNN) -- A fire truck escorted the funeral procession of Shannon Stone, the veteran firefighter and Texas Rangers fan whose death at a baseball game prompted a national outpouring of condolences.

Stone was buried Monday in his hometown of Brownwood, Texas. The 39-year-old firefighter fell to his death Thursday while trying to catch a ball at a Rangers game.

He is survived by his wife, Jenny, and his son, Cooper.

In the second inning of the ill-fated game, star outfielder Josh Hamilton tossed a souvenir ball into the stands after a batter hit a foul ball. Stone stuck out his glove and reached for the ball, but lost his balance and flipped over the railing of the outfield seats. He fell about 20 feet and crashed head-first into an area near a scoreboard, suffering fatal injuries. Stone died of blunt-force trauma, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner.

Ronnie Hargis was seated in the stands near Stone and tried unsuccessfully to save him.

"Your first instinct is to reach out and grab him," Hargis told CNN's Don Lemon. "I tried to grab him. I couldn't catch him. He went down. As he went by me I tried to grab him again and I missed and ... it looked like he was in slow motion as he was going to the ground. There was nothing I could do but watch him fall." His 6-year-old son witnessed the tragic accident.

"It's just the cruelest of reminders of just how fragile human life can be," said Joe Trahan, sports anchor at CNN affiliate WFAA. "The mind-boggling thing about this is that everyone's intent was right."

Rangers president Nolan Ryan, a Hall of Fame pitcher, said earlier that the club would review the height of railings at the stadium, even though they currently exceed the city's code limits. Trahan told Lemon that club management is already working on making changes at their stadium.

"I've spoken to Rangers officials, and they tell me that there are meetings that have already taken place with city leaders, meetings with architects at the ballpark, contractors. They're trying to find a permanent solution, not a stop-gap one."

But fan-awareness also plays a crucial role at stadiums, according to Trahan.

"This is a stark and cruel reminder that (safety) is everyone's responsibility when you go to the ballpark," he said, adding that he was surprised that injuries didn't happen more often, especially "down the first and third base lines ... those are rocket shots coming off those bats."

The Rangers held a moment of silence before Friday night's game against the Oakland A's. Members of both teams wore black ribbons.

Flags at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington flew at half-staff all weekend.

The team has set up an account accepting donations in Stone's honor with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. Donated money has been earmarked to help the Stone family. The Rangers have donated an undisclosed sum, according to the team's website, and the A's donated $5,000.


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