AN OLD man was killed in a hammer-throw accident at a Highland Games in the Netherlands.
A metal ball from the sporting event struck down the 65-year-old who died at the scene, local police confirmed.
According to witnesses, the passer-by had been walking on one side of a hedge in the gardens near Geldrop Castle, North Brabant – the site of the Open Highland Games lay on the other side.
Suddenly “a metal ball from the sporting event” flew over and struck him down.
Emergency services including a trauma helicopter rushed to the scene but the walker could sadly not be saved.
The hammer throw is a traditional part of the ancient games, in which competitors swing a “hammer” around their head and throw it as far as they can.
The hammer itself is a wooden pole with a metal ball attached that typically weighs 22lb for men or 16lb for women.
A witness told local news outlet Omroep Brabant: “The pendulum dropped, we saw the ball go over the hedge and then we heard a woman screaming very loudly.
“It wasn’t a spectator … so he didn’t see the ball coming at all.”
Spectators had watched the horror unfold, but the event was quickly halted after the incident.
The witness added: “When things went wrong, some people from the organization immediately ran to the victim. They started CPR.”
Another visitor who witnessed the accident also told Omroep Brabant: “We weren’t allowed to stand where that ball finally landed.
“But people could walk behind the hedge. At the bottom it was open, so we saw their feet and strollers, which they walked past. We were amazed at that beforehand.”
The witness also said: “The boy who swung the ball was completely upset. He was not a rookie, but really a top player, who had already participated in big competitions before.”
Police are investigating how the accident occured and also whether the event needed a permit.
A spokesperson for the municipality, however, told Omroep Brabant that the organisation had not applied for one as it was assumed the permanent event permit of the castle estate would be enough.
Chairman Adri Geerts of the organizer Foundation Village Marketing Geldrop-Mierlo told local media: “We are flabbergasted that something like this can happen.
“You don’t expect it, it’s the biggest disaster that can happen to all of us. We’re devastated.”
“I felt super excited about the event and all the people who were there.
“That someone then dies due to an accident, that makes me super sad.”
Geerts said the competitors from the event were completely distraught but were receiving help from victim support.
On the man who threw the hammer, Geerts added: “I haven’t spoken to him myself, but he’s completely beside himself, this should never have happened to him.
“They are players who practice this game internationally at a high level and with a lot of experience and are extremely experienced, but then apparently an accident can happen.”
Deputy Mayor Hans van de Laar said: “We are all very affected by this terrible accident. Our condolences go out to the bereaved families.”
The police are yet to identify the victim and continue to investigate the incident.
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