Fan falls to death at Texans stadium in Houston

Posted Aug. 31, 2012, at 9:43 p.m.

HOUSTON — A 25-year-old fan died after tumbling about 60 feet from a fifth-floor escalator at Reliant Stadium during a preseason Houston Texans game, officials said Friday.

Jonathon Kelly of Houston fell to the ground floor during the Thursday night game against the Minnesota Vikings, and frantic witnesses called police to report where his body had landed, police spokesman John Cannon said.

The fall appeared to be an accident, according to police, who didn’t immediately release the victim’s name pending notification of his family. But the Harris County medical examiner’s office released Kelly’s name and hometown Friday evening.

Kelly was traveling down from the fifth floor when he fell to the ground, said Mark Miller, the general manager of SMG-Reliant Park. Two medical teams working at the stadium treated the man at the scene before he was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he died, he said.

Staffers monitor fan safety at each escalator landing, Miller said.

“We make sure they’re not overloaded and we try to operate them in the safest possible manner,” Miller said.

The bank of escalators in the northeast corner of the stadium where the fall occurred was closed for inspections, and Reliant Park officials are reassessing safety procedures, he said.

But Texans President Jamey Rootes indicated that security and safety changes were unlikely because of the fatal fall.

“We have our procedures in place, the league has a whole comprehensive set of best practices relative to fan behavior and stadium security,” Rootes said. “We’ve always been rated at the very highest level … I don’t know that anything changes.”

The Texans open the regular season on Sept. 9 with a home game against the Miami Dolphins.

The fall wasn’t the only fatal incident at a Texas sport venue in recent years. In 2011, a firefighter attending a Texas Rangers game in Arlington died when he fell from the left field stands while reaching for a baseball tossed his way by All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Shannon Stone fell about 20 feet onto concrete when he tumbled over the left-field railing after catching the ball and falling into an area out of sight from the field as the Rangers faced Oakland. Cooper Stone, his 9-year-old son, witnessed the fall during the second inning.

In April, a statue of Stone and his son was dedicated to Rangers fans in front of the home plate gate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Railings also were raised throughout the ballpark before this season.

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