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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

13-Year-Old John Ashmore Killed by Pitched Ball

Aired May 12, 2003 - 20:14   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there was a wake tonight for John Ashmore, the 13-year-old Georgia boy who was killed Friday night during a Fayette County Youth Association baseball game. He was hit in the chest by a pitched ball. Now the county coroner says the ball might have disrupted the rhythm of John's heart.
According to a different organization, Little League Baseball, the biggest youth baseball group in the U.S., dying from getting hit with a pitch is rare indeed. Little League says it has only had two similar deaths in the last 32 years. That's with 25 million kids going through the program and taking 500 million pitches.

How much risk is on the diamond? John's coach, Bob Close, was at tonight's wake. He joins from us now from Fayetteville.

John, thanks for being with us on what has just got to be an extraordinarily difficult day. You were at the game. Tell us what you saw.

BOB CLOSE, YOUTH BASEBALL COACH: I was, Anderson. I was on first base, coaching the first base when the pitch came in and struck John and John went down and we rushed over to him and we knew at that moment there was something that was different than just an ordinary strike by a baseball.

COOPER: I heard stories, people were trying to do CPR. Was -- describe the scene.

CLOSE: Well, John, the -- Anderson, I'm sorry -- the -- there was a paramedic that was on the scene that is the father of one of the children there -- and he rushed over and began checking for a pulse, checking breathing. I came over and we began CPR. He was giving mouth to mouth and I began compressions and we kept those up until the paramedics came and took him off.

COOPER: You know, this is a probably a dumb question, but just how is the community doing? How is the family doing?

CLOSE: Well, you know, everybody is dealing with this in different ways. Everybody is touched by this.

John was a great kid. Everybody loved John. And it's one of those events that touches everybody in the community and creates little ripple effects throughout the community. So -- but, you know, everybody is pulling together and supporting one another and I think that's the important thing.

COOPER: You know, when there is a tragedy like this, and it happens so quickly and it's so without reason, people start to, you know, ask questions and look for things that could have been done differently.

As you look back on what happened, is there anything that you see that could have been done differently? Some people say there should have been or could have been a defibrillator the scene and that would have helped. Obviously not a common occurrence. Any questions you have tonight?

CLOSE: Well I tell you, I don't know that I'm so much looking back on what could have been done because hindsight is always 20/20. What I am trying so look forward, things we can do to try to set a better environment, to make sure that we don't have this type of an incident.

Whether it's defibrillators on the field, whether it's EMTs present at games, whether it's some type of chest protector or softer balls. I think those are all interesting ideas that have been brought up over time and I think they're all worthy to take a look at and consider.

COOPER: Yes, you mentioned the softer balls. A recent study that was published, I believe, in the Journal of American Medical Association said that the use of safety balls, for instance, cuts the risk of ball-related injuries by something like 23 percent. Face guards reduce the risk of facial injuries by 35 percent. But those are things certainly not really commonly in use at this point. Do you think they should be?

CLOSE: Well, you know, I don't know whether or not they should be. But I think that we need to have informed choices. I think we need to know what the choices are.

You know, chest protectors as an example. I wasn't aware there were chest protectors that were made for baseball. I'll be honest. And it's something that I found out since. I've researched it myself and found a number of manufacturers that make them. And there are a lot of things that a lot of us who have been around baseball haven't considered. And we need to understand what the options are so that we can make those informed choices.

COOPER: Bob Close, appreciate you so much joining us tonight. Just A horrific tragedy, and please send our condolences to John's family and the community. Thanks very much.

Well...

CLOSE: I will. Thank you very much.

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