Man killed by 22 lb metal ball during Highland Games in Netherlands

A man touring a Dutch castle died after being hit by a 22-pound metal ball thrown by a competitor at the Open Highland Games.

East Brabant Police said Geldroper, 65, died on Sunday “after being hit by a metal ball at a sporting event”.

The man was touring the gardens of Geldrop Castle in the south-east of the Netherlands when the ball flew over a wall, hitting him and killing him instantly, The Sun reported.

“The pendulum fell, we saw the ball fly over the hedge, and then we heard a woman scream very loudly,” a witness said.

“It wasn’t a spectator… so he didn’t see the ball coming at all.”

Emergency services rushed to the scene while event organizers attempted CPR, but the victim – who has not been publicly identified – could not be saved. The sporting event was then cancelled.

The throwing event is a traditional part of the Highland games, originating in Scotland, and involves a contestant swinging a ‘hammer’ around their head before letting go and seeing how far it goes.

“We are stunned that something like this can happen,” said organizer Adri Geerts, chairman of the Foundation Village Marketing Geldrop-Mierlo.

A man has been killed after being hit by a 22-pound metal ball used in a competition at the Open Highland Games in the Netherlands.
A man has been killed after being hit by a 22-pound metal ball used in a competition at the Open Highland Games in the Netherlands.
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

“You don’t expect it, it’s the greatest catastrophe that can happen to any of us. We are devastated.”

According to witnesses, the athlete who threw the ball was one of the best competitors in the sport.

“The boy who swung the ball was completely upset,” said one person.

“He wasn’t a rookie, he was really a top player who had competed in major competitions before.”

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The 65-year-old man was touring the gardens of Geldrop Castle when the ball flew over a wall and hit him.
The 65-year-old man was touring the gardens of Geldrop Castle when the ball flew over a wall and hit him.
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Geerts said all competitors were distraught by the death and were being provided with services. He said he did not speak to the athlete who threw the hammer.

“I haven’t spoken to him myself, but he’s completely upset, that should never have happened to him,” said Geerts.

“These are players who play this game internationally at a high level and with a lot of experience and are extremely experienced, but then obviously an accident can happen,” he added.

Deputy Mayor Hans van de Laar released a statement expressing his condolences to the family.

“We are all deeply saddened by this terrible accident. Our condolences go to the bereaved,” said Laar.

The Dutch police are investigating.

With mail wires

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