Tragedy struck in Winslow, Ariz. on Wednesday morning when a 13-year-old Little Leaguer died hours after being struck by a pitch in the middle of a game.
According to the Associated Press as well as a variety of Arizona outlets including ABC 15 News, Hayden Walton was struck by a pitch in the chest when he turned to bunt during a game on Tuesday night. The pitch reportedly struck the middle schooler in the chest, directly over his heart. That stopped his heart entirely; a condition medically referred to as commotio cordis, according to ABC 15.
"He took an inside pitch right in the chest," Winslow Little League official Jamey Jones told the AP. "After that he took two steps to first base and collapsed."
Walton was almost immediately transported to the nearest hospital, but he never recovered and was pronounced dead on Wednesday morning. The Winslow Little League suspended all games until Friday as a result and the incident was kept under wraps while those closest with the Walton family grieved for the loss of a young member of the Winslow community. Understandably, the Walton parents -- who also have a young daughter -- have been unwilling to speak to the press because of their shock and grief.That sense of tragedy has been shared by members of Little League's national branch, where Steve Keener, the president and CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball, released a statement offering up condolences for all those connected with the tragedy.
"Words cannot adequately express our sorrow on the passing of Hayden," Keener told the AP. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Hayden's family, all the players and volunteers of the Winslow Little League, his classmates, and his friends, at this difficult time.
"The loss of a child is incomprehensible."While Hayden Walton loved playing sports, he was also considered a rising pillar of the community for performing a variety of good deeds. He was a Boy Scout and, notably, mowed lawns and pitched in on odd jobs like taking out the trash for older widowed women who lived in his neighborhood. www.wdalaw.com
As of Friday night, no news about when or where Walton would be buried had been released. In the meantime, the Winslow community will continue to grieve over what can only be considered an overpowering and shocking loss.
"It's a hard thing to handle for everyone," Walton family spokesman Dale Thomas told the AP. "When you're touched by something of this magnitude, it sends shock waves throughout the community."