German Sports Official Killed By Javelin

There is a bizarre and tragic sports accident in Düsseldorf when judge Dieter Strack, 74, at a javelin event was struck and killed by a javelin thrown by 15-year-old boy.

The 15-year-old athlete was receiving psychological counseling.

It appears from news reports that Strack may have been at fault in going out into the field while the throw was still in the air to measure the distance.

In 2007, French athlete Salim Sdiri was hit in the back by a stray javelin during a competition in Rome. He survived with serious injuries.

I was interested in how this type of accident is handled and found one case out of Louisiana in 1972. Siau v. Rapides Parish School Bd., 264 So. 2d 372 (1972). That case however involved a truly bizarre negligence claim. A javelin had been left on the side of a school field with it tip pointed above the ground. Saiu had been declared as ineligible to join a mandatory run with the rest of the kids because he was not wearing the appropriate clothes. He then insisted that he would run anyway on the inner grass of the field:

However, when Siau started to run, the record shows that one of the regular coaches spotted him and yelled at him to stop. Disregarding this, Siau yelled that he would run anyway. It was established that no track events in the physical education program were ever run on the grass inside the fence — one reason being that the distance was not an accurate 440 yards. The only physical [**4] education activities conducted on the grass were the discus and shot put, both of which were carried out on the north end of the field. There was an occasional touch football game on the field. None of these events was permitted on this date. Students were allowed to walk across the field to reach the west side of the track where all races were started.

Siau ran along the inside of the four foot fence ahead of the participants on the track. At some point before reaching the east gate, plaintiff testified that he turned his head to the right and rear to observe the students on the track. While looking to the side, he ran past the gate and into the javelin. He never returned his vision to the direction in which he was running although he was running at top speed. Also, during the entire time he was running, he was not wearing his glasses. It was established that without glasses he could not distinguish the features of his parents faces at a distance of 20 to 25 feet.

The court dismissed the action on the basis of the negligence of the boy, noting “[w]hile one is not required to look for hidden dangers, he is nevertheless bound to proceed with his eyes open and to observe his course to see what is in his pathway.” The court found that the boy’s negligence was the proximate cause of the injury.

Source: ESPN

11 thoughts on “German Sports Official Killed By Javelin”

  1. I would opin it should be incumbent upon anyone working around javelin throws to be fully aware of the situation at all times, considering the javelin was a military weapon of days past. Being a judge in this event, he was fully aware of the dangers and did not heed these.

    I don’t believe his estate would prevail in a tort claim.

  2. Scary and sad story.
    The Pacer was one of the ugliest cars in history! The Javelin was better. Was that when Romney ran the company??

  3. I go to Highland Games regularly. Very large men in kilts throwing improbable objects great distances. There was one incident when a 26 pound weight, coming from behind, sailed over the shoulder of a judge of another event going on at the same time. The weight just grazed his left ear. The judge took one look at the weight embedded in the turf in front of him, bent over and clutched his chest. I thought he was going to throw up. Of course, two inches to the right and the guy would not have felt a thing–it would have been like turning out the lights. Way too close.

    When at a track and field event, situational awareness on the part of competitors, officials and spectators can save your life.

  4. IN California, he would have won, and sued the manufacturer of the javelin for millions.

  5. Let,

    I wake up just to annoy….. You’re welcome…..just remember….. Dodge the Dart…..

  6. So when do we see legislation for a waiting period and background check before one can buy a javelin ???

    AY – Great AMC reference, long live rthe Matador !!!

  7. How hard is it to understand that running downfield when a spear is being thrown, into the landing area of said spear, is quite risky. I think it’s a clear case of “complacency kills.” He’d done it so many times that he let his vigilance wane, and that’s when the grim reaper pounces.

    Maybe his age, and thus an impaired judgment, was at play too. But it certainly could happen to a young man too. Complacency.

  8. If in Arkansas….. You stay away from them too…..

    Didn’t know that they were still making the javelin…… I wonder if they are going to reintroduce the pacer……

  9. This happens from time to time and I have never understood how they have not made changes for the safety of the officials. How hard would it be to move them back and/or provide them with barriers to stand behind?

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