A CASTLE visitor was killed in a freak hammer-throwing accident at a Highland Games event yesterday.
A 22lbs metal ball from the traditional sporting event “flew over a hedge” and hit a man walking on the other side, killing him instantly.
Witnesses said the 65-year-old victim was not a spectator at the Open Highland Games held at Geldrop Castle, in the Netherlands, on Sunday.
Instead he was walking in the castle gardens when the unseen hammer flew over and struck him down.
One witness told local news outlet Omroep Brabant: “The pendulum dropped, we saw the ball go over the hedge and then we heard a woman screaming very loudly.
“It wasn’t a spectator … so he didn’t see the ball coming at all.”
Emergency services including a trauma helicopter rushed to the scene but the victim could sadly not be saved.
The throwing event is a traditional part of the ancient Scottish games, in which competitors swing a “hammer” around their head and throw it as far as they can.
The hammer itself is a wooden pole with a metal ball attached that typically weighs 22lb for men or 16lb for women.
Spectators had watched the horror unfold, and the event was quickly halted after the incident.
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The witness added: “When things went wrong, some people from the organization immediately ran to the victim. They started CPR.”
Another visitor who witnessed the accident also told Omroep Brabant: “We weren’t allowed to stand where the ball landed (in the event field).
“But people could walk behind the hedge. At the bottom it was open, so we saw their feet and strollers, which they walked past. We were amazed at that beforehand.”
The witness added: “The boy who swung the ball was completely upset
“He was not a rookie, but really a top player, who had already participated in big competitions before.”
Adri Geerts, chairman of organisers Foundation Village Marketing Geldrop-Mierlo, told local media: “We are flabbergasted that something like this can happen.
“You don’t expect it, it’s the biggest disaster that can happen to all of us. We’re devastated.
“I felt super excited about the event and all the people who were there.
“That someone then dies due to an accident, that makes me super sad.”
Geerts said the competitors from the event were completely distraught but were receiving help from victim support.
On the athlete who threw the hammer, Geerts added: “I haven’t spoken to him myself, but he’s completely beside himself, this should never have happened to him.
“They are players who practice this game internationally at a high level and with a lot of experience and are extremely experienced, but then apparently an accident can happen.”
Deputy Mayor Hans van de Laar said: “We are all very affected by this terrible accident. Our condolences go out to the bereaved families.”
The police are yet to identify the victim and continue to investigate the incident.