March 19, 2002
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A teen-age girl hit in the head by a puck at an NHL game has died, hospital officials said Tuesday.
Brittanie Cecil, 13, died Monday night, Children's Hospital said.
The girl was struck by a shot early in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
"Our fans mean the world to us, Doug MacLean, Blue Jackets general manager, said. "This loss has profound effect on the entire Blue Jackets family."
It is believed to be the first death of a fan hit by a puck at an NHL game.
Witnesses said the shot by the Blue Jackets' Espen Knutsen flew over the high glass at the west end of the rink, glanced off another spectator and hit the girl on the head.
NHL spokesman Frank Brown said Tuesday he could not recall any other fan killed by a puck.
He said one NHL player died from injuries suffered in a game. Bill Masterton died Jan. 15, 1968, days after falling.
Teams warn spectators over the public-address system about pucks flying into the crowd. They also place warnings on scoreboards and on the back of each ticket.
Although rare, spectators have been killed and seriously injured at hockey games, particularly in the low minor leagues and the amateur ranks where the glass is not as high around the rink.
A 21-year-old Canadian man died on March 5, 2000, after being struck by a shot that flew into the crowd during a South East Manitoba Hockey League game between Altona and Carman a week earlier.
A 9-year-old girl died in 1979 after being hit in the forehead during another Canadian game.
In 1984, a 10-year-old boy in Spokane, Wash., was killed when hit with a puck while watching an exhibition game between the Spokane Eagles and Spokane Chiefs.