College baseball player dies after makeshift dugout collapses

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A college baseball player in Pennsylvania died last week after a makeshift dugout structure collapsed on him.

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Angel Mercado, 19, a freshman at Central Penn College, died on May 23 from a traumatic head injury, WHTM-TV reported.

The Cumberland County Coroner’s office confirmed Mercado’s death, adding that the manner of death was accidental, according to the television station.

Mercado was helping his recreation league coach and teammates deconstruct a makeshift, 800-pound dugout at a ballpark in Harrisburg during the afternoon of May 22, the Patriot-News reported. The wooden frame collapsed and hit Mercado on the head, according to the newspaper.

Two other players helped pull Mercado from the rubble and he was taken to an area hospital, where he died, the Patriot-News reported.

According to City of Harrisburg spokesperson Matt Maisel, Mercado was part of the Harrisburg International League, which consists of older students from several area schools who had permission to play on the rented field, WHTM reported. The league did not have permission to build the structure, so the players, including Mercado, were dismantling it when the accident occurred, according to the television station.

Gerardo Diaz, known as “Coach Cuba,” said he has taken responsibility for the incident, according to WGAL-TV. He said he was devastated by Mercado’s death.

“He just got into (the) university. He just went to university just this year,” Diaz told the television station. “You don’t know how bright and funny.

“He was it.”

There will be no charges filed in the case.

“Nothing criminal happened here,” Maisel told The Associated Press. “No charges will be filed against the coach. No charges will be filed against anyone. This is simply a tragedy.”

The activity at the ballpark was not affiliated with Central Penn College.

“Our Central Penn College family is devastated by the loss of Angel,” the college’s president, Linda Fedrizzi-Williams, wrote in an email to students and parents. “As friends who have become family, we are mourning the heart-wrenching loss of one of our own, a promising young athlete who senselessly lost his life while helping others enjoy the sport he loved so much.

“No words can adequately express our anguish.”

A moment of silence was held at Central Penn College’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, according to the Patriot-News.

Mercado, who was a second baseman for the Division II college, made the dean’s list his freshman year, according to Anthony Stern, who knew the student and coached teams adjacent to those Mercado played on, according to the newspaper.

His dream was to turn pro, Mercado’s sister, Ysliann Mercado, 16, told the Patriot-News.

“He always bragged about going to be in the big leagues,” she told the newspaper. “He was the sweetest person. He always told people never to give up.

“He used to always push people to do the things that they love.”

Stern described Mercado as a kind young man with a good upbringing who loved to play baseball.

“If you’re gonna go, he went somewhere he loved to be,” Stern told the Patriot-News.

Services for Mercado will be held on Tuesday, according to his obituary. A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover his funeral expenses.

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