It’s possible that no one will ever know what caused Ronald Lee Homer Jr. to fall 85 feet to his death at Turner Field Monday night.
Maybe he slipped on wet pavement as he waited for the rain-delayed game to start. Maybe he was looking at vehicles in the Braves players lot.
It still doesn’t explain what caused the Rockdale County man to lean his 6-foot-6 frame too far over the 42-inch railing. Investigators said Tuesday the death was an accident. And it’s one Homer’s family still can’t believe is real.
“It should have never happened. Never, ever should have happened,” Robert Homer, Homer’s uncle, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I guarantee nobody’s going to fall out of no stadium again after we get through with this.”
“Ron” Homer and a college friend went to Monday night’s Braves game, which was delayed by rain for nearly two hours. Around 8:30 p.m., he went to the fourth level of the stadium, possibly to smoke a cigarette in a designated area, his family says.
Witnesses told investigators no one was standing near Homer at the time he fell, landing in the players parking lot 85 feet below, Atlanta police said Tuesday.
“Atlanta Braves event EMS arrived on scene to an unconscious, unalert, not breathing Mr. Homer,” the police report obtained by the AJC states.
Paramedics administered CPR on Homer, who was transported to Atlanta Medical Center, where he later died, Officer John Chafee with Atlanta police said.
The cause of death was blunt force trauma, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tuesday. Routine toxicology tests were conducted, but the results of those will not be known for several weeks.
Homer’s family says he wasn’t a heavy drinker, and likely wouldn’t have paid concession prices at the stadium. He drove his mother’s car to the game, and while waiting on the game to start, called his sister and mother, his uncle said.
A 2001 graduate of Rockdale County High School graduate, Ron Homer played football, basketball and baseball before earning an academic scholarship to Oxford College of Emory University.
“He was a very responsible young man, very studious, really nice to everyone he was around,” Robert Homer said. “Even growing up he was a nice boy.”
An avid sports fan, Ron Homer went to as many games as he could, but also enjoyed watching sports on television with his father, who called Tuesday the worst day of his life.
“He could tell you every Braves player, their batting average, every football player, every basketball player, who’s leading the points in NASCAR,” his uncle said.
Tuesday night, a moment of silence was held at Turner Field in Homer’s honor, a spokeswoman for the Braves said.
“The Atlanta Braves extend our sincerest and heartfelt condolences to Mr. Homer’s family and friends,” the team said in an emailed statement. “We are saddened by this tragic incident and will continue our investigation along with the Atlanta Police Department.”
The team declined to discuss specifics of the investigation, and referred questions to police. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and catcher Gerald Laird expressed their sympathy to the Homer family.
“It’s terrible to hear, especially when you walk through where it happened every day,” Laird said. “You see that spot every single day.”
The death is believed to be the second fatal fall at the stadium and the third at a major sports facility in the city.
In May 2008, a spectator died after falling 150 feet inside Turner Field. Justin Hayes, 25, of Cumming, fell from the upper deck concourse to the field level concourse behind home plate.
Last year, a college football fan fell 45 feet to his death at the Georgia Dome. On Aug. 31, Isaac Grubb, 20, of Lenoir City, Tenn., fell during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between Tennessee and North Carolina State, Georgia World Congress Center Authority officials previously said.
Grubb, who suffered head trauma, died after being transported to the hospital. His death was ruled accidental.
Funeral arrangements for Homer have not yet been finalized.
— Staff writers Carroll Rogers and Mike Morris contributed to this report.
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