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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Games Resume in Georgia County Where Boy Died

Aired May 15, 2003 - 19:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We want to give you an update about a story we told you about on Monday. There are baseball games scheduled for tonight in Fayette County, Georgia. Now, they're the first youth baseball games since Friday, when a 13-year-old boy was hit in the chest by a pitched ball and died. So tonight, in addition to saying "play ball," the folks in that community are also saying never again.
Here's David Mattingly -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there was a brief moment of silence earlier for the 13-year-old who lost his life here last Friday as he stepped up to the plate. He was killed, the victim of a very unusual medical phenomenon called camotio cortis (ph). It is so rare that experts are only now trying to get a handle on exactly how often it does happen. But already some have some very strong ideas on how to prevent it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): In a laboratory setting, the force of a pitched baseball striking a child's chest is clearly enough to cause a painful bruise. But under unusual circumstances, that same pitch can also induce a potentially lethal disruption of the heart's rhythm.

DR. DAVID JANDA, INSTITUTE FOR PREVENTIVE SPORTS MEDICINE: That heart is now in shock and it's beating wildly, so wildly it can't pump blood effectively to the other vital organs. And that's how these folks are dying.

MATTINGLY: Among the most recent cases, a 13-year-old Georgia boy was struck in the chest while batting in a youth baseball game. He died when he failed to respond to CPR.

JANDA: One is too many because this is completely preventable.

MATTINGLY: Dr. David Janda of the Institute for Preventive Sports Medicine, lobbies for better coaching and preparedness to prevent future deaths. Safety products on the market like protective bests and shields, even softer baseballs, he says, are not a hundred percent effective. First of all, Janda says teach a young player how to duck.

JANDA: Here comes the pitch, but what's happening right now is that the kids start to step forward like they're going to swing the bat and as they're starting to step forward, here comes the ball, and they panic. And rather than rolling like Barry Bonds, they walk into it and it hits them in the chest.

MATTINGLY (on camera): And it hits them right in the chest.

(voice-over): Next, Janda advocates keeping a defibrillator at every ball park. Newer models like this one can actually talk a novice through the lifesaving procedure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Press the orange button, shock delivered.

JANDA: The sooner you defibrillate from this scenario, the better. You want to do it within four minutes.

MATTINGLY: Little League Baseball, which accounts for more than half of all youth baseball games, recommends defibrillators at ball parks, but does not require them. At $2,500 or more, they could be cost prohibitive for neighborhood leagues and may not be considered a priority for an injury that remains relatively rare.

LANCE VAN AUKEN, LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL: In fact, just injuries overall, our statistics show that in Little League baseball, only about one out of every 1,000 players receives during a given year an injury that requires any kind of medical attention at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And it's not just in baseball, but in lacrosse and hockey, as well, any sport where there's some object hurled at high speeds from player to player. And in the game being played behind me tonight here at this field, where this tragedy occurred, surprisingly, there are no defibrillators here at this game. I've been told they have been ordered and they will be available for the next round of games on Saturday -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, David, thanks very much.

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