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Texas Rangers call fan's 30-foot fall an unfortunate accident

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Fan fell 30 feet trying to catch ball
  • NEW: Rangers call ballpark incident involving a fan an unfortunate accident
  • Tyler Morris, a firefighter, gets a hospital visit from Rangers President Nolan Ryan
  • Morris fell 30 feet from the stadium's second deck as he tried to catch a foul ball
  • Four fans that he fell on were also hurt; they were treated at the ballpark

(CNN) -- Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan is calling a Tuesday night incident in which a baseball fan fell about 30 feet from the second deck of Rangers Ballpark trying to catch a foul ball an unfortunate accident.

"It's pretty hard to guard against something of that nature," Ryan said at a Wednesday news conference.

Some guard railings in the stadium had been raised after a 1994 incident in which a woman suffered multiple injuries after falling 35 feet from the upper deck while posing for a picture, according to a report published in the Star-Telegram on April 15, 1994.

Ryan said safety policies in the stadium were reviewed after Tuesday's incident and that the second-deck railings measure more than 30 inches high, above the standardized code of 26 inches.

Ryan said the man who fell Tuesday night, Tyler Morris, was in good spirits when Ryan visited with him Wednesday at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Ryan said Morris, a firefighter with the Lake Cities Fire Department in Corinth, Texas, has fractures to the skull, foot and ankle, but hasn't lost his enthusiasm for the team.

Video: Rangers fan who fell in 'good spirits'

"I was expecting him to look a lot worse then he did. I think being a firefighter, and being in the shape he is, worked in his favor," Ryan said.

He said Morris has some recollection of what happened.

"He thought he was going to catch the ball," said Ryan. "He said it hit the tip of his finger. The next thing he knew he was falling."

Ryan said Morris remembered hitting the electronic message board at the stadium, but nothing after that. Ryan said he doesn't believe Morris jumped to get the ball, but said he probably extended himself, or reached for it, before falling over the second-deck railing.

Ryan also said he and other members of the Rangers organization brought Morris several autographed items when they visited him at the hospital, including the ball that he was trying to catch when he fell.

"He was as thrilled to get that as anything else we brought him," Ryan said.

"He's a die-hard Rangers fan, and grew up a Rangers fan. He was real appreciative that we came to visit him," Ryan said.

Wednesday morning, the Morris family issued a statement that said Morris is expected to make a full recovery, according to CNN affiliate KTVT/KTXA,

Morris is lucky to be alive, according to an off-duty paramedic who was one of the first people to come to the man's aid.

"The fall could have easily killed the guy," Derek Dilday said. In an interview with HLN, Dilday said he rushed to the man's aid after witnessing the entire incident.

"I turned to my left to watch the foul ball, and I saw this guy reach over the railing. Then I saw his feet go up, he tried to reach back for the railing, but he missed it. He hit the video-tron (electronic message board), then fell the rest of the way like a rag doll."

"It was the most shocking thing I had even seen," he said.

Dilday said he ran about 50 feet to get to the spot where Morris had fallen.

"He was laying in the aisle on his back. There was no external bleeding, which was a good thing. I held his head and tried to keep him still until the medics arrived."

Dilday said Morris was having difficulty breathing but was trying to move. "He tried to move his neck, he tried to get up, I kept telling him, 'Stay still, stay still.'"

By the time medics arrived, Morris was able to say his name, Dilday said.

"He was able to move all his extremities and was responsive to the paramedics," Rangers spokesman John Blake said.

Morris fell on top of four other fans, causing minor injuries to them, said Ryan. "One woman had a bruised knee, one man had a bruised shoulder, someone was hit by Morris's shoe," he said. "They chose not to go to the hospital emergency room and were treated in the stadium's first aid area," Ryan said.

All stayed for the remainder of the game, he said.

The game between the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians was delayed for 16 minutes after the fall. The Rangers eventually won, 12-1.

CNN Sport's Adam Anshell contributed to this report.