ATLANTA – A 20-year-old fan from Tennessee was drinking alcohol before he fell to his death in the Georgia Dome and struck another man, who was injured, authorities said Saturday.
Isaac Grubb of Lenoir City, Tenn., was killed Friday night when he fell over a 33-inch railing and plummeted to the lower level of the downtown Atlanta stadium during the Tennessee-North Carolina State game. Grubb had been cheering Tennessee's second touchdown when the accident happened around 8:23 p.m., said Frank Poe, executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operates the stadium.
Grubb, who was too young to legally buy alcohol, started drinking around 5 p.m., more than three hours before the accident, said Lt. Chad Hurston of the authority's police department. Investigators are awaiting results from the medical examiner's office before determining whether alcohol was a major factor in the accident, Hurston said. An autopsy was planned.
Witnesses have told police Grubb did not buy alcohol inside the stadium. His family could not be reached for comment.
Grubb landed on a 34-year-old man in the mezzanine from Fort Mill, S.C., who suffered minor injuries. Georgia Dome officials did not release the identity of the second victim, who was treated and released from the Atlanta Medical Center.
An initial review has not identified any equipment failures, Poe said. Patrons in the balcony are shielded by a railing that is 33 inches tall in front of seats and 42 inches tall in front of the aisles.
Poe said he believed a woman attending an Atlanta Falcons game a decade ago had suffered minor injuries in a similar fall. Stadium officials did not see a need to change their policies before hosting a kickoff game Saturday between Auburn and Clemson.
Poe also disputed accounts that medical teams were slow to respond to the accident, saying the first medical responders arrived at the site a minute after the accident, followed by a second team four minutes later.
"In addition, we have not uncovered anything regarding our standard operating procedures that would suggest a change is necessary for" Saturday's game, Poe said.
The fall occurred a day after a 25-year-old fan tumbled about 60 feet from a fifth-floor escalator at Reliant Stadium in Houston during a preseason Houston Texans game. Jonathon Kelly died from the fall during the Thursday night game against the Minnesota Vikings, and frantic witnesses called police to report where his body had landed, police spokesman John Cannon said. Police said the fall appeared to be an accident.
Last year, a firefighter attending a Texas Rangers game in Arlington died when he fell from the left field stands while reaching for a baseball tossed his way by All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton. The man's 9-year-old son witnessed the fall. A statue was later dedicated at Rangers Ballpark to the man and his son, and railings were raised throughout the park before this season.
And in Colorado, a 27-year-old man, Robert Seamans of Pueblo, fell to his death last year while trying to slide down a stair railing at Coors Field during the seventh inning of a game between the Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He fell between 20 and 30 feet and struck his head on concrete.