Saturday 21 April 2018

Boy (12) died in 'freak accident' when metal peg on football pitch uprooted and flew into his skull

Oliver Croke (12) was killed in a freak accident on a football pitch. Photo: Tiverton High School
Oliver Croke (12) was killed in a freak accident on a football pitch. Photo: Tiverton High School
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A 12-year-old boy was killed by a metal peg when it became loose in the ground and catapulted 100 feet into his head.

Oliver Croke (12) was watching his brother Liam Hole play football when he and another player tackled into a banner that was being held down by metal pegs.

One of the metal pegs launched towards Oliver in a “freak accident” that left him with fatal injuries.

During an inquest into the tragedy, Hole said he was “shocked and devastated by what happened” at the cup game between his Bampton side and Bradninch in mid-Devon last September.

He said the pitch was roped off by barriers to “keep parents and spectators from interfering” with the game.

His two young brothers including Oliver were sitting behind the rope on the grass when his tackle with an opponent entangled the rope barrier sending the metal peg into the air.

“After a few seconds I heard someone shouting "we need a first aider". I then saw my brother Olly lying on the floor. He had suffered a head injury. Olly was conscious. He was struggling,” Hole told the inquest.

The 6mm U-shaped metal peg may have become loose during previous games the inquest heard.

Medical staff arrived on scene to treat the 12-year-old and he was first taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital before being transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. His family were told he had a 10pc chance of survival.

He underwent an operation to remove the peg and relieve pressure on his head but died on September 14, two days after he was admitted.

His cause of death was a hypoxic ischemic brain injury due to a traumatic penetrative brain injury.

Jeremy Pritchard from Mid Devon Council Environmental Health told the coroner that the anchor point from the fixing “flew through the air and penetrated his head” following the challenge.

He said: “The barrier is part of the FA Respect Campaign which began in the 2008-9 season and was used in all levels of football.”

He said in seven years during which the banner has been compulsory there had been no similar incidents.

The death is being treated as “a freak accident”.

An FA spokesman said: 'Our thoughts remain with the family of Oliver Croker.

“We have maintained contact with them since the time of the incident and continue to offer our support.

“In relation to the specifics of the tragedy, we await receipt of correspondence from the coroner, at which time we will be in a position to respond more fully.”

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