RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The 17-year-old daughter of Toronto Blue Jays first base coach Mark Budzinski died in a boating accident in Virginia over the weekend, authorities said Monday. .
Julia Budzinski was one of two girls who fell from a tube pulled behind a boat on the James River in Richmond on Saturday, said Paige Pearson, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
As the boat operator returned to pull the girls out of the water, the boat hit a wave, which pushed it over Budzinski and hit her with the propeller, Pearson said. The driver of the boat and the operator of another passing boat jumped into the water to try to save Budzinski, who was pronounced dead in a hospital.
Pearson said foul play was not suspected and alcohol was not a factor. “It was a terrible accident,” she said.
As news of the crash spread, a vigil was held Sunday night at Glen Allen High School, where Budzinski was a rising senior and played football and other sports.
“It was a very happy and fun last day on Earth for her,” her mother, Monica Budzinski, said at the vigil. “She was happy, laughing, having a good time and that’s how I will remember her.”
Mark Budzinski left the Blue Jays in the third inning of Game 2 of the team’s doubleheader against the Rays on Saturday after learning of the death of his daughter.
The Blue Jays then released a statement saying he would be taking time away from the team to grieve with his family.
There was a moment of silence for Julia Budzinski ahead of Sunday’s series finale.
“My heart breaks for Bud,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said after the game. “There are good men and great men. That’s a great man. He’s a special person. His family is great. The only thing I can share about what happened is that he left a note for the team. He did this while he was going through a tragedy, and that tells you everything about him.
Mark Budzinski, a University of Richmond graduate, played four games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 and retired in 2005. After leading Cleveland’s minor league system, he joined the big league staff of the Indians in 2017. Toronto signed Budzinski in November 2018. .
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