We’re always worrying about our children. Whether it’s their grades, their excessive screen-time, or their general health and wellbeing—it’s every parent’s prerogative to fret about their kids.
So when we learn about a new hazard that had probably never even occurred to us, it sends shivers down the spine of moms and dads universally.
Dave Mills had no idea that an unanchored soccer goalpost could be a danger to his 15-year-old son Garrett. But a coroner’s report this week confirmed that the unsecured soccer crossbar in a local park, which tipped over and struck him in the head, was the cause of his death on May 12.
“I had no idea that this risk existed in a park,” Mills said to CBC today. “That this harmless park had the potential to take somebody’s life. I’m angry. I feel like Garrett was let down. I feel like we’ve been let down … We feel like something near and dear and precious to us has been ripped out of our hearts.”
Garrett was hanging out at King Street Park in Napanee, Ont. after school with his best friend and girlfriend ahead of their first official date at the movies. The 15-year-old began doing chin-ups on the soccer crossbar when it toppled over and struck him on the left side of his head, killing him instantly. His girlfriend told his family that he had said it was the best day of his life.
“This death was so needless,” Mills said. “It didn’t have to happen.”
And it’s not the first soccer goalpost death to occur in Canada. Back in 2014, Jaime Palm was killed while playing on a community centre field in Bradford, Ontario. The 15-year-old soccer player became trapped under the crossbar of an overturned soccer net.
So what are we doing about it? Well, legally speaking, nothing.
While there are no laws which make it necessary for soccer nets to be secured at all times, according to Soccer Canada, it is a requirement for goalposts to be anchored down before a match can start. Unfortunately, since Garrett was visiting the park in his own leisure time before the soccer season had started, no such regulation could protect him from danger.
The Greater Napanee Soccer Club told CBC that they had not yet anchored down the goalposts ahead of the season and that the field had been unusable because of the rainy weather the week prior to the incident. But whether the posts are being used in the way they are intended or recreationally by bored teens, the cases of Jaime and Garrett prove that teens are susceptible to being hurt if we don’t do more to protect them.
Mills claims that had he known that this danger existed, he would have warned his son. But would that have made a difference? Teens aren’t known for taking safety seriously or making the smartest assessments, which leaves us with the only certainty we can rely on—securing and anchoring goalposts in the first place.
If your kid plays soccer on a community playing field or for a team, urge those responsible for the site to ensure that the goalposts are anchored down before anyone uses them. And if your kid frequents a local park with a soccer net, remind them that they may not be safe and encourage them to exercise caution.
(Image via Facebook shows Garrett Mills 10 minutes before his death)