A newly built baseball dugout collapsed, fatally injuring a University of Pennsylvania player who had helped dismantle the unapproved structure, officials said Thursday.
Angel Mercado, a 19-year-old center fielder, had just completed his freshman season at Division II Central Penn College when the tragedy unfolded Monday afternoon.
Mercado played in a summer recreation league, the East Shore Twilight Baseball League, and his team had rented the 7th & Radnor Sports Park in Harrisburg for games and practices, Harrisburg spokesman Matt Maisel said.
The Mercado recreation league coach had built this makeshift dugout on Sunday, and the city told him he was not allowed to build such a structure on public lands, Maisel said.
Mercado was one of the players who helped the coach disassemble the dugout when it fell apart Monday, officials said. He was punched in the face and rushed to hospital, where he died late Tuesday night, Maisel said.
No criminal charges are expected in this case.
“Nothing criminal happened here,” Maisel said. “No charges will be brought against the coach. No charges will be brought against anyone. This is just a tragedy.”
Gerardo Diaz, coach of Mercado’s rec league side, said Thursday he was too distraught to discuss the tragedy.
“The name of the team is Harrisburg Internationals, but what I want you to do, I want you to change it to Angels — Harrisburg International Angels,” a sobbing Diaz told NBC News, his voice trailing off.
“I can’t remember anything at the moment. Can you please call me another time. I’d love to talk to you, my head is still a little cloudy.”
Central Penn College is located in Summerdale, about six miles west of 7th & Radnor Sports Park, across the Susquehanna River.
In a statement, the school said it was “deeply saddened” by Mercado’s death and clarified that he worked “in a program not affiliated with the university.”
“Our family at Central Penn College is devastated by the loss of Angel,” President Linda Fedrizzi-Williams said in a statement.
“As friends turned family, we mourn the heartbreaking loss of one of us, a promising young athlete who senselessly lost his life while helping others enjoy the sport he loved so much. No words can adequately express our anguish .”