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French boy dies after being hit by hockey puck at match

The freak tragedy occurred some three minutes before the end of a match in Dunkirk.

File pic.
File pic.
Image: Keystone Canada/Press Association Images

AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD ice hockey fan who had gone to watch a match in northern France with his father died Sunday after he was hit in the head by a puck that flew into the stands.

The freak tragedy occurred some three minutes before the end of the match in Dunkirk on Saturday evening, when a player hit the puck — a rubber disk — towards the end of the rink and a teammate then diverted it, sending it into the stands.

Hugo, who was with his father, was hit on the ear and suffered cardiac arrest. Rescue workers on site were able to revive him, but he died Sunday of his injuries in hospital.

A puck weighs around 170 grammes (six ounces) and can travel at more than 180 kilometres an hour (112 miles per hour) when hit during a hockey match.

“It’s hard. Everyone knows each other, everyone knows the kid,” said Dunkirk Mayor Patrice Vergriete.

On Sunday afternoon, some 400 people — including a lot of children — gathered in front of the ice skating rink to lay flowers.

A probe has been opened to determine why the accident happened, but the rink was built to the required standards, Vergriete said.

This type of accident is extremely rare, and has never happened before in France.

But in north America where the sport is extremely popular, there have been several such tragedies.

The latest occurred in 2002 when Brittanie Cecil, 13, was killed when a puck was deflected into the stands in Ohio.

© – AFP 2014

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