ATLANTA Lifetime Atlanta Braves fan Ronald Lee Homer Jr. knew well the stadium where he fell to his death.
He attended three or four games a month at Turner Field and watched as many televised games as he could, his father said. He was always wearing a Braves hat.
Monday night, Homer, 30, was waiting out a rain delay in a fourth-level smoking area with a 42-inch railing that would have come up to the 6-foot-6 fan's midsection. He'd told his mother during a phone conversation that the rain was letting up and he was about to head to his seat for the game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Shortly afterward, he fell about 85 feet into a parking lot.
"He said, 'I love you mom,' and I said, 'I love you, too,' and that was it," his mother, Connie Homer, said Tuesday morning.
While it wasn't clear exactly why he fell, police said the death around 8:30 p.m. appeared to have been an accident and didn't involve foul play. At least four witnesses told police no one else was standing near him when he fell.
A police report released Tuesday said Homer was unconscious and wasn't breathing when paramedics arrived. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Toxicology tests were pending, but the medical examiner said he died from injuries in the fall.
Fatal falls raise the question of whether stadiums are safe enough. The International Building Code, the accepted industry standard, has a minimum height requirement of 42 inches for guardrails that act as protective barriers in open-sided areas such as walkways or smoking platforms. Railings in front of seated areas must be 26 inches.
Before Tuesday's game, the Braves observed a moment of silence for Homer. Braves spokeswoman Beth Marshall said the team was investigating the incident but declined to discuss the circumstances of the death or whether the team was planning safety changes.
Monday's accident wasn't the first fatal fall by a fan at Turner Field. In May 2008, a 25-year-old man died from head injuries after he fell down a stairwell. Police found alcohol was involved.
Homer's father, Ronald, said the ballpark should have been designed to prevent such falls.
"I would like to see the building built to prevent something like this happening to another family," he said.