Bears Fan's Stadium Death Ruled Accidental

In this Sept. 20, 2009, photo fans pack Chicago's Soldier Field to watch at Chicago Bears vs. Pittsburgh Steelers NFL football game. Counterterrorism officials have issued security bulletins Monday, Sept. 22, 2009, about terrorist interest in attacking sports stadiums, entertainment complexes and hotels.(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato) AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

Updated at 10:48 p.m. ET

A medical examiner on Monday ruled the death of an Illinois man who fell from a stadium concourse during halftime of Sunday's Bears-Eagles game an accident.

Witnesses and friends gave differing accounts about the moments before the man cleared a 3-foot barrier at Chicago's Soldier Field and fell more than 35 feet onto the roof of a storage building. Early reports from some news outlets suggested he may have jumped to his death intentionally.

But the Cook County medical examiner's office ruled the death of Stewart Haverty — whose name was spelled Stuart, according to school officials and family — an accident caused by injuries consistent with a "fall from height."

Haverty, of Woodstock, fell at about 5 p.m. Sunday from a concessions area that is a popular halftime hangout spot. He was declared dead shortly after being taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

"It's a tragic, unfortunate accident," said Soldier Field spokesman Luca Serra.

According to early reports, witnesses told police that Haverty ran to the ledge and jumped. But friends told the Chicago Sun-Times that Haverty may have been going for a cigarette. Smoking is not permitted in the stadium, and Haverty may have meant to sit on or behind the barrier and slipped, or not realized how far the drop was.

Serra called the death an "isolated incident" and the first of its kind since completion of a major renovation of the 63,500-seat stadium in 2003.

Chicago police spokesman John Mirabelli said Haverty's death didn't appear to have been "criminal." He said he didn't know what led to Haverty's fall.

Friends and family described Haverty as a kind man and an avid Chicago Bears fan.

He even stacked up sofas at his apartment to make it appear stadium-like, friend Emily Heidenreich told the Chicago Sun-Times.

He was "down to earth, quiet, and fun to go out for a few drinks with," Heidenreich said. "You could always go to him with a problem."

A message left Monday for Heidenreich by The Associated Press wasn't immediately returned.

Haverty graduated early from Woodstock High School in 2006 after taking an interest in machinery, said the school's principal, Corey Tafoya.

He had a particular interest in tool-and-die making, Tafoya said.

"He was a success story in a lot of ways," Tafoya said. "He was a well thought-of kid."

Haverty's death was the second in a week at a major U.S. sporting arena. On Nov. 21, a 2-year-old boy fell from a luxury box at the Staples Center during a Los Angeles Lakers game.
  • CBSNews

Comments