Student injured during Kerala school athletic meet dies

Student who injured during Kerala school athletic meet dies
Abheel Johnson, Plus-One student of St Thomas Higher Secondary School, Pala, being rushed to hospital. File photo

Pala: A student volunteer, who was seriously injured after a hammer thrown by a contestant struck his head, died on Monday. The shocking incident had occurred during the 63rd Kerala State Junior Athletics Championships at the Municipal Stadium in Pala town in Kerala's Kottayam distric earlier this month.

The deceased, Abheel Johnson, a Plus-One student of St Thomas Higher Secondary School, Pala, had been battling for life at the Kottayam Medical College where he underwent a surgery soon after he was rushed there on October 4.

Abheel was the son of Johnson George of Moonnilavu near Erattupettah. He was an avid football player who had received training at the Scoreline Sports Academy of the Kerala Blasters.

He was hit by the 3 kg hammer hurled by a girl contestant from about 35m behind on the fateful day. He was reportedly collecting the javelin that had fallen nearby. People standing nearby screamed as they saw the hammer flying in his direction. Though, Abheel bent down instantly, the hammer fell on his left forehead causing serious injuries.

Both javelin throw and hammer throw events were being held simultaneously on the ground when the tragedy struck.

The accident that shook the sports fraternity and the town happened at 12.10 pm on October 4. Following the incident, the government had cancelled the event and announced a probe.

How it happened

Hammer throw competition for girls was being held adjacent to the area where javelin throw competition for the under-18 boys was on. The field for both the events were the same. After a javelin throw competitor completed the throw, a hammer throw competitor was given the opportunity.

As two competitions were going on at the same time, volunteers picking the hammer and the javelin were on the ground and this proved risky despite standard alerts.

Cramped ground

The Pala stadium is notorious for inadequate space and earlier too accidents have been reported from here.

The lack of space at the finishing point of 100 metres had come under scanner soon after the inauguration of the state School Athletic Meet recently. The shortage of space is also blamed as a reason for Friday's accident when two events were being staged side by side.

Moreover, as the jumping pit is situated near the 400 m race track athletes often confuse between the line of the jumping pit and that on the running track. There is also no warm-up area for jumpers.

Earlier it was alleged the buildings, including the gallery, at the stadium were constructed in an unscientific manner. Even though the stadium had hosted many sporting events after the synthetic track was laid a few years ago it was for the first time that such an accident happened.

Not unprecedented

This was not the first time that similar accidents have happened during sports events in Kerala.

In 2008, one Abin Jaleel (12) had died after the javelin thrown by his classmate fell on the head while a play was on at the ground of St George Higher Secondary School, Muthalakodam, near Thodupuzha, in Idukki district.

In the same year, a girl was injured after a hammer fell on her head at a sports meet at Edakkara in Malappuram.

In 2011, during the competitions, a boy student of Pattazhi Government Higher Secondary School had lost sight in one eye when the Javelin used as cross bar for the high jump event pierced his left eye.