Twelve-year-old dies from brain injury after being hit by softball

Updated: July 25, 2007, 5:48 PM ET
Associated Press

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A 12-year-old softball player was knocked unconscious when a ball hit her in the head during practice, and she died a day later, police and family said.

Margaret Ruth "Maggie" Hilbrands was hit by a ground ball during a routine infield drill on Monday -- a day after the death of a minor league baseball coach who was struck by a line drive in Arkansas. The Grand Rapids girl died Tuesday at DeVos Children's Hospital.

"She missed the ball. It appears it hit her in the wrong spot. She never regained consciousness," her mother, Jan Hilbrands, told The Grand Rapids Press.

Maggie stopped breathing but her heart was beating after the ball hit her, Lowell Police Chief Jim Valentine told The Associated Press. He said coaches and others at the scene tried to revive her before she was taken to a hospital.

The Kent County medical examiner's office planned to conduct an autopsy Thursday.

Maggie had been set to enter the seventh grade this fall at Grand Rapids Christian Middle School. She had been practicing with teammates on the Lowell Xtreme traveling softball team.

"The team is having a real hard time," her mother said. "This was kind of Maggie's first experience with the traveling team, but she really enjoyed it."

On Sunday, Mike Coolbaugh, a 35-year-old coach for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, died after being struck by a line drive as he stood in the first-base coach's box during a game in Arkansas.

On Tuesday, Pulaski County (Ark.) Coroner Mark Malcolm told the Tulsa World that Coolbaugh died from a loss of blood to the brain after the foul ball hit him on the left side of his neck, rupturing an artery.

Coolbaugh was given CPR on the field, but Malcolm said there was nothing medical personnel could have done to save him.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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