RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The 17-year-old daughter of Toronto Blue Jays first base coach Mark Budzinski died in a boating accident in Virginia over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
Julia Budzinski was one of two girls who fell off a tube being pulled behind a boat on the James River in Richmond on Saturday, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources spokesperson Paige Pearson said.
As the boat operator returned to get the girls out of the water, the boat hit a wave, causing it to be pushed on top of Julia and striking her with the propeller, Pearson said. The boat driver and the operator of another passing boat jumped into the water to try to rescue Julia, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Pearson said no foul play is suspected and alcohol was not a factor. “It was a terrible accident,” she said.
As news of the accident spread, a vigil was held Sunday night at Glen Allen High School, where Julia was a rising senior and played soccer and other sports.
“It was a very happy, fun last day on Earth for her,” her mother, Monica Budzinski, said at the vigil. “She was happy, laughing, having a good time and that’s the way I’m going to remember her.”
Julia’s father, Mark, left the Blue Jays in the third inning of the second game of the team’s doubleheader against the Rays on Saturday after learning of his daughter’s death.
The Blue Jays later issued a statement saying he would take some time away from the team to grieve with his family.
There was a moment of silence for Julia before Sunday’s series finale.
“My heart breaks for Bud,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said after the game. “There’s good men and great men. He’s a great man. He’s a special kind of person. His family is great. The only thing I can share about what happened is that he left a note for the team. He did this while going through a tragedy, and that tells you everything about him.”
Mark, a University of Richmond graduate, played four games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 and retired in 2005. After managing in Cleveland’s minor league system, he joined the then-Indians’ big league staff in 2017. Toronto hired Mark in November 2018.
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