Created on Monday, 09 September 2013 Written by MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — NFL opening day excitement this week was marred with the death of one fan heading into the big game in San Francisco and injuries to two others from falls inside the Indianapolis stadium.
File- This Nov. 11, 2012 file photo shows Candlestick Park is shown during the first quarter of an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams in San Francisco. A football fan fell from an elevated pedestrian walkway and died at San Francisco's Candlestick Park Sunday Sept. 8, 2013, during the 49ers-Green Bay Packers game. San Francisco police spokesman Gordon Shyy says multiple people witnessed the man's fall onto a sidewalk from the Jamestown walkway, which goes around Candlestick. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
At the 49ers' game Sunday against the Packers at Candlestick Park, Kevin Hayes of Hayward fell to his death from an elevated walkway, said an investigator at the San Francisco Medical Examiner's office.
Hayes, 32, and his brother were walking on a bridge raised above four lanes outside the stadium, connecting a street to Candlestick Park, said San Francisco police spokesman Gordon Shyy. Off-duty medics and police officers gave the man first aid until an ambulance arrived, but he was declared dead from his injuries, Shyy said.
The death came just after kickoff in what was eventually San Francisco's 34-28 win over Green Bay. Multiple witnesses reported the man appeared to be intoxicated before he fell over the rail to a sidewalk below.
Also Sunday, a railing collapsed at the Colts game against the Raiders in Indianapolis, injuring two unidentified fans who were leaning against the barrier above the tunnel leading to Oakland's locker room.
One person was taken away on a stretcher, while another left in a wheelchair, witnesses said.
After the Colts 21-17 victory, Barney Levengood, executive director of the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, issued a statement that said one of the people was released after receiving medical attention at the stadium. The other person was treated at the stadium and transported to Methodist Hospital for additional evaluation. Levengood said that the second fan did not appear to be seriously injured.
In a statement, 49ers spokesman Bob Lange confirmed the team had learned of the accident outside the stadium. "We would like to express our deepest condolences to the family during this difficult time," he said in an email.
Since 2003, there have been more than two dozen cases of fans falling at stadiums across the United States, according to the Institute for the Study of Sports Incidents. That includes a 2007 fatality at Candlestick Park when a fan misjudged a jump and landed near the concession area, said Alana Penza, director of the institute, which is part of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, based at the University of Southern Mississippi.
"Sometimes a venue will say this was an accident, but other times they might decide to make adjustments," said Penza.
She said Monday that while alcohol can raise the danger to fans, "you have to think of how, regardless of alcohol, how easy would it be for you or me to misstep and fall down stairs."
Historic Candlestick Park closes after this season and will be replaced by a shopping center. Next year, the 49ers will move into a $1.2 billion stadium at the team's Silicon Valley headquarters in Santa Clara, a steeper design but with many built in safety rails.
Penza noted that stadium fatalities are not limited to baseball.
In Atlanta, baseball fan Ronald Lee Homer Jr. died last month after falling 85 feet following a tumble over Turner Field's fourth-level railing. Homer's death was the third at an Atlanta stadium in the past year.
Also last month in Denver, Broncos fan Noel Robinson was injured when he fell about 10 feet from an escalator at a preseason game.
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