Serious Pole Vault Injuries 2003-Present

Discussion about ways to make the sport safer and discussion of past injuries so we can learn how to avoid them in the future.
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rainbowgirl28
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Serious Pole Vault Injuries 2003-Present

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:14 pm

I decided to put together a sticky post with links to more information about all of the more serious pole vault (and pole vault-related) injuries that have occurred in recent years. Life-threatening injuries. I may at some point add information about older injuries, but I feel that those from 2003 to present are most relevant as they occurred under the current rules regarding pit size, etc. The intent is to cover catastrophic injuries and any other serious accidents involving the head or spine.

I think it is helpful for coaches and athletes to understand how these injuries occurred and what factors led to them so that we can better understand how to prevent them in the future.

Most of my information is based off newspaper stories and my conversations with people involved or people with knowledge of the case. Please send me a note if any of this is inaccurate. There are often lawsuits involved in these cases, and people can be reluctant to discuss details publicly, so information can be hard to come by.




CATASTROPHIC POLE VAULT INJURIES (Injuries in which the athlete's life was threatened or they passed away)

2011

Robert de la Paz - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: male high school student in New Jersey. Personal best:
* Date: 2011
* What happened: Was trying to get on a bigger pole, landed in box
* Injury: Fractured skull, concussion.



2010

Robert Zhongjie Yin - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: ~20-year-old male college sophomore in Iowa. Personal best: 11'
* Date: May 14, 2010
* What happened: During the competition, he landed partially on the mat and partially on the ground on the right side of the pit.
* Injury: Traumatic brain injury. Athlete passed away a few days later.

James Vollmer - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: ~21-year-old male college sophomore in Iowa. Personal best: ~14'
* Date: December 1, 2010
* What happened: During practice, he was coming up short, let go of the pole and landed in the box.
* Injury: Severed spinal cord. Paralysis.


2009

Courtney Brinckman - Discussion about her accident
* Athlete: 18-year-old female high school senior in Indiana. Personal best: 10'
* Date: April 28, 2009
* What happened: After a competition, decided to take a few practice jumps. Hand slipped off pole and athlete fell back on runway, striking her head on the ground.
* Injury: Traumatic brain injury. Athlete was in a coma for a period of time. Had a section of skull removed to relieve the pressure on his brain, skull section was later restored. Has since recovered, and is now attending college.





2008

Chase Kear - Discussion about his accident Discussion about the "miracle" of his healing
* Athlete: 19-year-old male attending a junior college in Kansas. Personal best: ~13'
* Date: October 2, 2008
* What happened: Was testing out some new poles during and indoor practice at school and overshot the pit, hooked his feet on the edge, and the rest of his body landed beyond the pit.
* Injury: Traumatic brain injury. Athlete was in a coma for a period of time. Had a section of skull removed to relieve the pressure on his brain. Has since recovered, though still suffers from some effects of the brain injury.




Ryan Moberg - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: 18-year-old male high school athlete in Washington state. Personal best: 10'
* Date: March 31, 2008
* What happened: Was practicing indoors and did not have enough pole rotation, fell backward and hit head either on runway or other surface in front of the pit.
* Injury: Brain/neck injury leading to death.



Jared Lutz - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: Male college athlete in Maryand. Personal best: N/A
* Date: January 31, 2008
* What happened: While practicing on an illegally configured pit indoors, he missed the pit and hit his head on the floor.
* Injury: Brain injury, coma, permanent disability.


2007


Joe Silvers - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: Male college athlete in Idaho. Personal best: N/A
* Date: 2007
* What happened: Broke a pole and a piece of broken pole struck his head with great force. (Note: This is extremely rare, generally when a pole breaks the pieces fly away from the athlete and pose a greater threat to those standing nearby than to the athlete.
* Injury: Skull fracture, loss of consciousness, brain hemorrhaging. Fully recovered.


Keegan Burnett - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: Male college athlete in Idaho. Personal best: 16'5
* Date: May 2, 2007
* What happened: Athlete was recovering from knee injury, and had been running slower than normal, therefore using smaller poles than normal. While warming up for a competition, he ran faster than expected and overshot the pit, hitting his head on concrete behind the pit.
* Injury: Traumatic brain injury, coma, piece of skull removed, later implanted. He has since recovered, resumed pole vaulting, and graduated college. He subsequently was paralyzed in a skiing accident, his previous brain injury was a major factor. Tragically, Keegan took his own life following that accident.

2005


Ryan Adler - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: 15-year-old male high school freshman in Pennsylvania. Personal best: ~9' (10'6 in practice)
* Date: April 18, 2005
* What happened: Missed the box and let go of the pole, landing upside down in the box area. His head is reported to have struck the front buns.
* Injury: Brain injury, coma, full recovery.




SERIOUS BUT NOT CATASTROPHIC INJURIES

Clark Miracle - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: Male 7th-grader in Illinois. Personal best: 9'
* Date: April 10, 2010
* What happened: Pole caught on lip of box causing him to come up short and hit his head either in the box or the runway.
* Injury: Remained conscious and felt fine, but parents insisted on taking him to the hospital where scans revealed two skull fractures and some minor brain bleeding. Full recovery anticipated.

Michael Seaman - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: Male college sophomore in Tennessee. Personal best: 16'7
* Date: January, 2009
* What happened: Came up short, let go of pole, landed in box.
* Injury: Fractured two vertebrae, badly sprained ankle. Fully recovered.



INJURIES THAT OCCURRED WHILE TRAINING FOR THE POLE VAULT BUT NOT ACTUALLY POLE VAULTING

**Great discussion about the merits of rope vaulting viewtopic.php?f=30&t=18482 ***

Leon Roach - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: 19-year-old male college sophomore in California. Personal best: N/A
* Date: September 3, 2009
* What happened: Athlete was performing a rope vaulting drill and overshot the pit (HJ pit). Landed partially on the pit and his head struck the ground.
* Injury: Traumatic brain injury that led to death.

Chip Heuser - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: Male college athlete in Oklahoma. Personal best: 18'5
* Date: October 31, 2007
* What happened: Athlete was performing a rope vaulting drill and overshot the pit. Landed partially on the pit and his head struck the ground. They normally put extra mats behind the pole vault pit, but did not do so in this instance.
* Injury: Traumatic brain injury. Now fully recovered and returned to finish out his college career and is still vaulting.

Jordan Ostlund - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: 22-year-old male college senior in North Dakota. Personal best: N/A
* Date: September 14, 2004
* What happened: Trampoline injury. Landed on neck.
* Injury: Snapped two vertebrae in neck resulting in paralysis from neck down.



Pre-2003 Injuries

These injuries were sustained at a time when rules about pit dimensions and such were different, but they are still useful to study.

Brandon White - Discussion about his accident and subsequent lawsuit
* Athlete: High school senior in Connecticut. Personal best: N/A
* Date: June 15, 2002
* What happened: Landed in box during warmups (see thread for more details).
* Injury: Broke back in three places, resulting in paralysis.

Heath Taylor - Discussion about his accident
* Athlete: 17-year-old high school senior in California. Personal best: ~10 feet
* Date: April 1997
* What happened: Landed on back of pit, head struck concrete.
* Injury: Death

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Re: Serious Pole Vault Injuries 2003-Present

Unread postby yankee814 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:14 pm

Great 20/20 segment on Chase Kear aired tonight, 4/2/10
Sophomore 2nd year Vaulter

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Re: Serious Pole Vault Injuries 2003-Present

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Thu May 20, 2010 5:57 pm

Updated to reflect accidents that have occurred this year.

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one from 2008

Unread postby Divalent » Sat May 22, 2010 4:17 pm

In the college forum you posted a story about an Ashley Esparza fracturing a vertebra by landing in the box in 2008, which probably should be on this list.
http://www.polevaultpower.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=17509

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Re: Serious Pole Vault Injuries 2003-Present

Unread postby SkyHigh » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:51 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjXlSs95hWc

I would call this a serious injury. The funny thing about this guy is that he had a long argument prior to the event with his trainer concerning the use of an ankle brace which he eventually used. They took all of the precautions they could to discourage repeat injury, and then something like this happens. Ouch!
Last edited by SkyHigh on Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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rainbowgirl28
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Re: Serious Pole Vault Injuries 2003-Present

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:32 pm

SkyHigh wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjXlSs95hWc

I would call this a serious injury.


It is, but we're really looking more at life-threatening accidents in this thread.

There are a disturbing number of relatively elite male vaulters who have damaged their scrotum/testicles from hitting the pole on the way down :confused: :deadrose:

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Re: Serious Pole Vault Injuries 2003-Present

Unread postby fishman4god » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:15 pm

rainbowgirl28 wrote:
SkyHigh wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjXlSs95hWc

I would call this a serious injury.


It is, but we're really looking more at life-threatening accidents in this thread.

There are a disturbing number of relatively elite male vaulters who have damaged their scrotum/testicles from hitting the pole on the way down :confused: :deadrose:


I can speak from experience that the pole comes close ALOT to that area from guys who jump 2 feet plus over their handgrip.....and yes it is disturbing.


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