Fall from bleachers mars return of baseball to Montreal
Published Friday, March 28, 2014 9:10PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 29, 2014 12:32PM EDT
A 40-year-old man is in stable condition Saturday after falling between 10 to 15 metres at the Olympic Stadium Friday night at about 10:20 p.m. Ambulance attendants rushed to the scene to attend to the man as fans watched on at the crowded stadium.
Nearby eyewitness Ian Tkach told CTV Montreal that the man appeared to be in high spirits as he dashed around and attempted to rouse others in the stands to start a wave.
The man attempted to stand on a railing in his efforts to excite the crowd. He planted his feet on the bottom rung and leaned towards the field but suddenly lost footing and very quickly fell head-first down to the concrete below.
Security was reportedly thin in that section in the latter part of the game.
Danny Richer of the Montreal police told CTV Montreal late Friday that the man, "was seriously injured everywhere in his body, he's still in critical condition, we do fear for his life." His condition was later upgraded to "stable."
The accident put a damper on the first night of major league baseball in Montreal since 2004.
A touching scene preceded the pre-season game at the Olympic Stadium Friday night as Gary Carter’s widow and daughter were almost overcome by emotion during a stirring tribute to the longtime Expo catcher.
Sandy Carter and her daughter Kimmy struggled to keep their composure as 46,121 fans cheered the memory of Gary Carter, while Expo greats Steve Rogers, Warren Cromartie and Tim Raines stood by.
The moment was accompanied by a video showing moments from Carter’s Hall of Fame career, much of which was played in Montreal.
The tearful women thanked the crowd and expressed their appreciation for Montreal and their time here.
Kimmy was born at the Lakeshore Hospital in 1980.
Mayor Denis Coderre tossed out the first pitch prior to the game as many basked in the nostalgia of old time Montreal baseball, which disappeared in 2004.
"The fans are warmly dressed, it almost looks like they’re going to an Expos playoff game,” said Dave Kaufman of the group Expos Nation, who played a part in organizing the event.
When asked by CTV Montreal about the chances of the city getting its beloved Expos team back, Kaufman said that a well-heeled investor would have to be ready to put up a kingly sum.
“It’s a huge investment and it just shows you how much cheaper it would have been to ride through the rocky period in the early 2000s as compared to right now when it’s going to literally be a billion dollar exercise.”
The Blue Jays beat the Mets 5-4.
On Saturday, 20 players and coaches from the 1994 Montreal Expos will appear in uniform for a ceremony prior to the pre-season matchup between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets.
They include manager Felipe Alou, ace pitcher Pedro Martinez, first baseman Cliff Floyd, centre fielder Marquis Grissom and several others from the best team in baseball in the strike shortened 1994 season.
Over 50,000 Montreal baseball fans are expected to jam the Olympic Stadium for the afternoon contest and a Saturday night gala will also take place at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel later in the evening.
-with files from The Canadian Press