For Eastern Oregon University student and softball pitcher Holly Martin, February 25, 2010 was both the luckiest and unluckiest day of her life. On that day, she suffered a life-threatening, life-changing head injury. Given the reported lack of care she received after the injury, Holly was lucky to survive.
According to an article in an Oregon newspaper called The Observer, Holly Martin was pitching during practice from a distance of about 10 to 20 feet (significantly closer than the regulation distance of 40 feet). The batter, who was using a composite bat, struck the ball directly back to the pitcher, striking her in the head behind her right ear. A length of chain-link fence had been set up as protection, but it didn’t keep Martin safe.
So far, there were four mistakes made: The pitching distance was too short, the batter should not have been using a composite bat, the protective cage was inadequate, and the pitcher should have been required to wear a helmet.
But as far as we can discern from the article, those problems were compounded by the coach’s actions after the injury occurred.
Once hit, Martin fell to the ground, unconscious and bleeding from her ear. While other players urged coach Melissa Wheeler to call 9-1-1, she ignored them and called a trainer instead. According to the article:
Martin was transported on a golf cart to the training room. The suit alleges she was kept in the training room about two hours before Wheeler took her to the Grande Ronde Hospital in her personal car.
At the hospital, Martin was diagnosed with a longitudinal fracture of her right temporal bone. She was flown to Emmanuel Hospital in Portland for treatment.
That is hardly an appropriate reaction to a head injury. The injured Martin should have been transported by ambulance after a 9-1-1 call. This was a serious injury. According to the article, Martin suffers from permanent severe headaches, memory loss, inability to perform tasks requiring sustained attention, trouble with math and deductive reasoning, and more.
“She had all the signs of a head concussion but they kept her there for over two hours,” [Holly Martin’s mother, Dawn Martin] said. “My whole point is, why wasn’t 9-1-1 called? It took them two hours to call me, and then another half hour to get them to take her to the hospital.”
The Martin family has filed a lawsuit to recover economic damages and other costs. Apparently, the University is fighting the lawsuit on a few grounds, including that the statute of limitations had passed.
That would be a shame. Holly Martin has been harmed enough.
To read the full story in The Observer, click here: Softball player sues EOU over head injury