PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There are more than three million kids who play soccer in the United States, and 44,000 in the Pittsburgh region. That’s a lot of children on the soccer field, and many kids and parents are unaware of a danger on the field — soccer goals tipping over.

Hayden Ellias, 10, was a star soccer player. But during a scrimmage, while playing goalie, something went terribly wrong.

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“We could see Hayden lying lifeless on the ground with the goal on top of him,” Mary Ellias, Hayden’s mother, said. “And I knew it was bad.”

Somehow the goal had tipped over, hitting Hayden. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“I really, at the time, I was calling it a freak accident, but it’s not a freak accident,” Ellias said.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200 children are injured each year by soccer goals that tip over. There have been 36 deaths since 1979.

Soccer goals, which are heaviest in the front, can tip over without warning.

Just ask Greg Short of Squirrel Hill, who coached soccer for years.

“The goal blew over right in the middle of the game,” Short said. “Just missed my goalie.”

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A strong gust of wind, or even kids hanging on the goals, can cause them to tip.

Jerry Concannon, a licensed soccer coach and owner of Quick Skills Soccer, which trains thousands of soccer players in our region, says most parents and kids are unaware of the danger.

“Once it gets going, it’s gone,” Concannon said. “It doesn’t take much, and I would not want a kid under it if that soccer goal tipped.”

To keep soccer goals from tipping, they need to be secured to the ground with sand bags or stakes. And Concannon says kids need to know the danger before stepping on the field.

“They need to be told to tell a coach or a referee, if they see a goal without a sand bag, not to go near that goal,” he said.

Wisconsin, Illinois and Arkansas have passed soccer goal safety laws requiring goals to be secured. New York has a bill that’s pending.

For more information on soccer goal safety and safe, local soccer camps, visit:

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