RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The 17-year-old daughter of Toronto Blue Jays first base coach Mark Budzinski was killed in a boating accident in Virginia over the weekend, authorities said Monday. .
Julia Budzinski was one of two girls who fell from a tube thrown behind a boat on the James River in Richmond on Saturday, said Paige Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
When the boat operator returned to get the girls out of the water, the boat hit a wave, causing him to be pushed onto 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 rescue Budzinski, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Pearson said foul play is not suspected and alcohol was not a factor. “It was a terrible accident,” he said.
As news of the accident spread, a vigil was held Sunday night at Glen Allen High School, where Budzinski was a senior and played football and other sports.
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“It was a very happy and fun last day on Earth for her,” her mother, Monica Budzinski, said at the vigil. “I was happy, laughing, having a good time and that’s how I’m going to 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 his daughter’s death.
The Blue Jays later 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 before Sunday’s series finale.
“My heart breaks for Bud,” Toronto coach Charlie Montoyo said after the game. “There are good men and great men. He is a great man. He is a special kind of person. His family is great. The only thing I can share about what he went through is that he left a note for the team. He did this while going through a tragedy, and that tells you everything about him.”
Mark Budzinski, a graduate of the University of Richmond, played four games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 and retired in 2005. After managing in Cleveland’s minor league system, he joined the then-Indians’ major league staff in 2017. Toronto signed Budzinski in November 2018.
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