Father of teen killed by unanchored soccer goalpost: ‘It didn’t have to happen’

WATCH ABOVE: Father vows to protect other kids after son's tragic death from a toppled soccer net

Fifteen-year-old Garrett Mills was with his friends at a Napanee, Ont., park the evening of May 12 when an unanchored soccer goalpost fell on the teen, fracturing his skull and killing him instantly.

“It was in that second that life changed and our world fell apart,” said Garrett’s father, Dave Mills to Global News affiliate CKWS TV.

“There’s the hurt of losing your child, but what adds more pain to it, is the fact that it didn’t have to happen.”

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Now, Mills has made it his mission to prevent another tragedy. Mills, who is a radio host and goes by the name Buzz Collins, has posted a heart-wrenching warning for other parents that he wants to see shared far and wide.

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“This is the post that needs to be read by anyone and everyone who are parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or know someone who is one of the aforementioned,” said Mills in a Facebook post.

He describes the events of the day his son died. Mills said his son Garrett was with his girlfriend and his best friend at King Street Park when shortly after 5 p.m., Garrett grabbed hold and swung from the soccer goalpost.

“Unfortunately, the goalposts were allegedly not anchored or pinned down. The goalpost/crossbar allegedly tipped over and landed on Garrett’s head, killing him instantly,” Mills wrote.

“What came as a surprise to us after the fact is that non-anchored soccer goalposts are a known risk and have killed several young people in the past.”

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There have been at least 41 fatalities in North America due to unanchored goalposts.

In 2014, a Bradford, Ont., teen girl was killed after she was trapped under a soccer net’s posts. In 2012, a five-year-old girl died in Watson Lake, Yukon, when a post in a high school field fell on her, and in 2001, a boy was killed by a goalpost in Montreal.

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“Those numbers may seem small when compared to overall population, but trust me, as the parent of one of those statistics, even one is too many,” Mills wrote.

“Over the days, weeks, months and hopefully years to come, I will do my best to ensure this doesn’t have to happen to another family. It shouldn’t have had to happen to ours.”

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Local authorities have been tight-lipped regarding Garrett’s death, citing the ongoing investigation.

“It’s important to realize that the OPP and the coroner haven’t completed their work and they are working through an investigative process,” said Raymond Callery, Greater Napanee’s chief administrative officer, to CKWS. “When we see the results of that, we can determine how the community moves forward.”

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Local MPP Todd Smith told CKWS he plans to introduce new legislation that would see all soccer goalposts in the province properly secured.

In the meantime, Mills is intent on getting the word out and keeping his son’s memory alive. In an effort to raise awareness and pay tribute to his son, Mills wants to see checkered tape wrapped around the left post of all soccer goalposts, “So if you see that, you know why it’s there.”

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“If I knew of this risk two weeks ago, the difference between life and death for Garrett would have been as simple as me telling him not to play on the soccer goals.”

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— With files from Callie Warren, CKWS News

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