Georgia teen dies after collision at first base

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Andrew Cohn's eyes were locked on the baseball, his glove was open, and his foot was on first base. 

The 15-year-old Camden County Riverdog player was stretching toward the sky, waiting for the sweet thud in his mitt.

The ball was still in the air when the runner collided with Andrew and sent them both to the dirt. 

In his 27 years of coaching, Charles Sullivan  had seen plenty of worse collisions than that one at the bottom of the first inning in a game against Jacksonville's Hitmen on Saturday. 

But nothing was worse than what Sullivan said happened to his player next.

The runner was crawling to the bag and Andrew was getting to his knees to go after the ball. But Sullivan said the first baseman dropped back down. He collapsed onto a shoulder, rolled onto his side and then his back. 

Andrew's father sprinted onto the field along with the coaches. With a knee brace on, Sullivan said he wasn't the first one to reach Andrew. When he did, the player's eyes started to roll back in his head.

Andrew was breathing at first. But not for very long. An assistant coach started CPR.

But a few hours later, homicide detectives were interviewing witnesses at Shands Jacksonville. Inside the hospital, loved ones and teammates were trying to understand how and why a young man could lose his life playing a game.

Sullivan was in shock, not knowing exactly what he would say to the rest of his team. After the collision in the second game of what would have been a triple-header, all play stopped.

"I don't know what to say to them. It's the last thing you'd expect," Sullivan said. "... He was having an exceptional year. The only sense I can make of it, is because God needed him more than I did."

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Detective Bob Bowers called the player's death a "freak accident." 

He said rescuers brought the teen to the hospital, where a doctor pronounced him dead. Police didn't immediately release the teenager's name but said an autopsy will be performed.

It happened about 2 p.m. on a baseball diamond at 7330 Civic Club Road. The Dinsmore Park and Center is the home field of the Riverdogs. They are from St. Marys, but have had trouble finding field space near home.

Andrew was usually lead-off batter, but Sullivan said he hadn't been up to the plate Saturday. The coach was saving Andrew because the switch-hitter had been bugging him to let him pitch lefty in a game.

Sullivan had decided he'd let Andrew do just that in the last game of the day against the Hitmen. Instead, teammates will have to say goodbye to a young man who wore "00" on the back of his jersey.

The boy who also played for Camden County High School's freshman and junior varsity baseball teams. 

The smart, funny blond kid who stood about 5-foot-3, and stretched with everything he had on a sunny Saturday afternoon to guide that baseball into his glove., (904) 359-4161

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Jillian 05/16/10 - 08:03 am
This is so tragic. Prayers

This is so tragic. Prayers for all involved, esp. the young boy's family, and the other boy who was involved in this collision.

JohnQPublic 05/16/10 - 08:25 am
Now that is sad.

Now that is sad.

AutumnLeaves 05/16/10 - 01:05 pm
Tragic and traumatic for

Tragic and traumatic for everyone. Sorry to hear this.

Taylor B
Taylor B 05/16/10 - 01:22 pm
I played first for years, and

I played first for years, and it was a rough position, probably second only to catcher. I've been knocked on my butt more times than I can remember. You do what you can to make the play. Condolences.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 05/16/10 - 02:03 pm
So very, very sad. Just goes

So very, very sad. Just goes to show that when it's your time to go, there's not much that can be done. At least he died doing what he loved. Beside the family, I pray for the boy that ran into him. Can you imagine the guilt? So sorry.

windinmyface 05/16/10 - 03:02 pm
Oh my goodness. This is so

Oh my goodness. This is so sad. My condolences to this 1st baseman's family, friends and the child that was running. I suspect that all involved need to realize that this was God's plan. I'm so sorry. My prayers go up for you.

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