LA JOLLA — A teenage college pole vaulter died after he missed the landing pad during a practice session at the University of California, San Diego’s La Jolla campus at the weekend.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office says 19-year-old Leon Roach landed head first on concrete during a training jump Saturday.
He was pronounced brain dead at a hospital.
"There were two spotters, and they had mats," said his sister, Christyn Hendrick of Huntington Beach. "It was just the upper half of his body that didn’t make it.
"His head hit the ground, and he went straight to heaven. The doctors said he was gone instantly because of the brain damage.
"It’s not something where you think you might die every time you go up to vault. We don’t live our lives scared to do things like that," she said. "This is the normal risk of everyday life. We each have so many days, and the Lord decided that was his time."
A memorial service will be held this week in Huntington Beach, where Roach graduated from Marina High School.