Student Ethan Roser, only 19 years old, was tragically killed in April 2017 while volunteering at a college track and field meet. He was struck in the head by a 16 pound hammer thrown during a practice exercise. When he was struck, Ethan was standing in an area outside the field of play, near the spectator line.
As shown in the above photo, the “hammer” consists of a metal ball attached by a steel wire to a grip.
On March 21, 2019, Jeffrey E. Martin of MARTIN LAW, LLC and David J. Schwaner of SCHWANER INJURY LAW filed suit in federal court against the National Collegiate Athletic Association for their failure to take steps to protect Ethan after they were put on notice that others had previously been injured in other hammer throw events. Amongst the allegations against the NCAA are that they failed to enact sufficient minimum size requirements for hammer cages; failed to enact safety rules for the Hammer Throw event which they knew or should have known created an unreasonable risk of harm to others; failed to require the presence of trained officials at track and field events; failed to warn Ethan of the unreasonable risk of harm posed by standing in the area where he was struck during warm-up throws; and failed to warn Ethan of the unreasonable risk of harm posed by the use of a hammer cage meeting only the minimum requirements for height.
The hammer cage surrounds the athlete throwing the hammer. These cages were designed to prevent the hammer from exiting the thrower’s hands in unprotected directions, such as out of the back, sides, and in dangerous angles from the circle. Here, the height of the cage was insufficient to prevent the hammer’s trajectory from reaching volunteers, such as Ethan, standing outside the field of play.
Ethan’s parents are struggling with every parent’s worst nightmare: the death of their beloved child. Young Ethan had his whole life ahead of him. The violent nature of Ethan’s last moments make his loss even more unbearable. Ethan’s siblings will feel his absence every day.
Their hope is that no other family suffer this unimaginable and preventable tragedy. Our shared desire is that this lawsuit will trigger a change for the better: to finally enlighten the NCAA that they need to review and revise their policies and procedures and adopt previous safety recommendations to increase the size of the cage around the hammer throwers to prevent errant throws from escaping and fatally injuring anyone else.