HOWELL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It’s a warning for parents of the thousands of kids who play soccer: A 6-year-old girl was severely injured after a portable soccer goal fell and crushed her head.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, with 14 million kids playing soccer, the danger is rare — but real. It doesn’t take much force to topple an unsecured, portable soccer goal. It has caused the deaths of 39 young players nationwide since 1979 and many more injuries, including this week on the playing field behind Howell Middle School North.
“It’s very disturbing to see something like this happen,” said Bob Hoenig, who helps run the Pinelanders Youth Soccer Club. “You never want to see a kid get hurt. Never ever.”
Hoenig’s club requires that coaches make sure goals are secured with sandbags or stakes.
“We remind all of our coaches and all our parents that safety is always the first priority in this club,” Hoenig said.
But on Wednesday a 6-year-old girl playing on or near a goal was critically injured when it toppled over. The top bar struck her head and pinned her to the ground.
“She was unconscious,” said Christian Antunez of the Howell Township Police Department. “She was covered in blood, a significant amount of blood, around her ears, nose and her mouth.
“Right now it appears to be a freak accident that the goal fell over and struck her in the head while she was playing near it,” Antunez said.
The girl remained Friday evening in the ICU at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune. A family friend told CBS2 she is showing signs of improvement and her family is encouraged.
Some parents say the wind was strong that day and may have contributed to the accident.
“Oh, it’s very upsetting,” said Lillian Reres. “These are little kids that just want to have fun.”
“I’ve been on those,” said William Brunner, of Howell. “I’ve done pullups and stuff like that. It’s pretty light weight, in my opinion.”
Soccer officials are required to inspect goals before games to make sure they are secure. Police say the accident is a stark reminder for coaches and parents to make sure practice fields are safe, too.