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Family questions safety at Turner Field following fatal fall

Ronald Homer (Facebook photo)

Ronald Homer (Facebook photo)

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View of structure where Atlanta Braves fan 30-year-old Ronald Homer of Conyers, Georgia, accidentally fell to his death during the Braves game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field. Homer fell from the fourth-story platform, where a red sign with the number 1 is positioned (the sign is not connected with the incident). (Photo: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports)

ATLANTA — Police determined after an investigation that the death of lifelong Atlanta Braves fan Ronald Homer on Monday night in a fall at Turner Field was an accident.

"At this time there is no indication of foul play, and the fall appears accidental," Atlanta police said in a statement Tuesday morning.

Homer fell 85 feet from an upper level platform at the stadium to a parking lot, police said. Witnesses saw him fall and called police, who found him unconscious and not breathing. The fall was not caught on security cameras, police said.

Emergency officials tried to revive him on the scene before taking him to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Homer's mother, Connie Homer, told WXIA television station in Atlanta that her son was six feet, six inches tall and may have lost his balance peering into the parking lot on the ground.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he was leaning over looking at the cars in the players' parking lot," she said.

She told the TV station she doubted her son was intoxicated.

Homer, 30, had just spoken with his mother on the phone while waiting out a two-hour rain delay when he went over a 42-inch, fourth-level railing with no one around him and fell 85 feet into a players parking lot. The medical examiner ruled that he died of blunt force trauma.

"He said, 'I love you mom, and I said, 'I love you, too' and that was it," his mother, Connie Homer, said in an interview on Tuesday, according to CBSNews.com.

The victim's uncle, Robert Homer, said Tuesday his nephew was at the game with a friend from college when the accident occurred. He said Ron Homer was an honor graduate of Rockdale County High School and a gifted athlete who played a number of sports. He attended Oxford College.

Robert Homer described his nephew as part of a close-knit family that has lived in Rockdale County for seven generations. He said Ron lived with his parents, Ronald Lee and Connie Homer.

Robert Homer said the family was still reeling from the news.

"It's more than a shock, it's hard to stomach. Real hard to stomach," he said.

He questioned the safety of railings at Turner Field and pointed to other recent falls at sports stadiums and said more safety provisions are needed.

The Braves observed a moment of silence on Tuesday night during their second game this week against the Phillies.

"The Atlanta Braves extend our sincerest and heartfelt condolences to Mr. Homer's family and friends," the team said in a statement. "We are saddened by this tragic incident and will continue our investigation along with the Atlanta Police Department."

In 2008, 25-year-old Justin Hayes fell to his death at Turner Field during the 8th inning of an Atlanta Braves-New York Mets game. Police said alcohol was a factor when Hayes fell about 60 feet as he was trying to slide down the handrails of a club-level stairway at the field.

Major safety changes were implemented at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, after a fan fell to his death from the stands in 2011 while trying to catch a ball thrown by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Shannon Stone fell over the railing and plunged 20 feet, leaving his young son alone in the stands. His death prompted new safety measures such as higher rails, a pre-game announcement, warning signs and security guards.


Reuters News Service contributed to this report.