July 31, 2014 5:20 pm

Ontario girl not the first killed by soccer net

Watch above: The death of a 15 year girl in Bradford prompts calls for new safety measures. Sean Mallen reports. 

TORONTO – A 15-year-old girl died Wednesday after she was trapped under a soccer net in southwestern Ontario.

South Simcoe Police described the death as “accidental” but, though rare, it’s not the first time someone has died underneath the crossbar of a soccer net.

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Anchoring the goal posts to the ground to keep them from tipping may seem like common sense, but three U.S. states (Illinois, Arkansas, and Wisconsin) all passed legislation requiring goal posts to be secured to the ground.

There aren’t any similar regulations in Ontario. Instead, the guidelines governing soccer nets in the province are determined by municipalities and respective soccer associations.

The Ontario Soccer Association operates in 21 districts and manages 700 soccer clubs across the province.

Before each game, the OSA’s referees and coaches do a full field inspection including checking the net is properly secured.

“Those two key groups of people, the coaches and referees, are held accountable for the condition of the field before we actually start our competition,” Ron Smale, president of the OSA said. “If the net is not properly secured, it could harm someone as we saw yesterday.”

The OSA doesn’t use permanent nets, instead, they secure each net with sandbags to prevent it from tipping over.

But Smale admits, problems can occur when in off-hours when there’s no supervision and municipally-owned nets might not be secured.

Including the 15-year-old girl who died in South Simcoe Wednesday, there have been four Canadians known to have been killed by a soccer net.

A six-year-old boy died in Wallaceburg, Ontario in 1997 when he was trapped under a homemade, unanchored soccer net.

A 14-year-old Montreal boy was killed when a soccer net fell onto him in 2001, and a five-year-old girl died in Watson Lake, Yukon in July 2012 when a she was trapped under a soccer net.

But the 2003 death of six-year-old Zachary Tran in Illinois motivated his family to create the group Anchored For Safety – a non-profit organization that pushes to mandate that soccer goals be anchored to prevent further incidents.

- With files from Sean Mallen 

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