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Funeral services Monday for fan who died at game

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:37 AM EDT, Mon July 11, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Shannon Stone died after falling over railing at Rangers Stadium
  • Sports anchor: Accident a reminder of "how fragile human life can be"
  • Outfielder had heard Stone's son ask for ball and pitched one toward him
  • Rangers have set up account in Stone's name

Read more about this story from CNN affiliate WFAA.

(CNN) -- Funeral services will be held Monday for a Texas man who died at a baseball game last week.

Shannon Stone will be buried in his hometown of Brownwood, Texas. The 39-year-old firefighter fell to his death Thursday while trying to catch a ball at a Texas Rangers game.

Ronnie Hargis was seated in the stands near Stone and tried unsuccessfully to save him.

"Your first instinct is to reach out and grab him," Hargis told CNN's Don Lemon. "I tried to grab him. I couldn't catch him. He went down. As he went by me I tried to grab him again and I missed and ... it looked like he was in slow motion as he was going to the ground. There was nothing I could do but watch him fall."

In the second inning of the ill-fated game, star outfielder Josh Hamilton tossed a souvenir ball into the stands after a batter hit a foul ball. Stone stuck out his glove and reached for the ball, but lost his balance and flipped over the railing of the outfield seats. He fell about 20 feet and crashed head-first into a scoreboard, suffering fatal injuries. Stone died of blunt-force trauma, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner.

His 6-year-old son, Cooper, witnessed the tragic accident.

"It's just the cruelest of reminders of just how fragile human life can be," said Joe Trahan, sports anchor at CNN-affiliate WFAA. "The mind-boggling thing about this is that everyone's intent was right."

Trahan provided details of the incident for Lemon.

"Josh Hamilton flipped a foul ball up to a little girl an inning or so earlier," Trahan said. "And he heard at that point Cooper Stone ask for a ball. Most of the time, big-leaguers wouldn't even hear that, but he made a note of it, he's trying to do the right thing."

Rangers president Nolan Ryan, a Hall of Fame pitcher, said earlier that the club would review the height of railings at the stadium, even though they currently exceed the city's code limits.

Trahan told Lemon that club management is already working on making changes at their stadium.

"I've spoken to Rangers officials, and they tell me that there are meetings that have already taken place with city leaders, meetings with architects at the ballpark, contractors. They're trying to find a permanent solution, not a stop-gap one."

But fan-awareness also plays a crucial role at stadiums, according to Trahan.

"This is a stark and cruel reminder that (safety) is everyone's responsibility when you go to the ballpark," he said, adding that he was surprised that injuries didn't happen more often, especially "down the first and third base lines ... those are rocket shots coming off those bats."

But Trahan also said that the accident should be kept in perspective.

"We go back to the unexplainable issue of why this happened, because there have been thousands and thousands of balls hit in that area, people with gloves trying to get balls and nothing has happened until now."

The Rangers held a moment of silence before Friday night's game against the Oakland A's. Members of both teams wore black ribbons.

Flags at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington have flown at half-staff all weekend.

The team has set up an account accepting donations in Stone's honor with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. Donated money has been earmarked to help the Stone family. The Rangers have donated an undisclosed sum, according to the team's website, and the A's donated $5,000.

Funeral services will be held at noon ET at the First United Methodist Church in Brownwood.

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