It has been a sad week in college baseball. Last weekend, former Mississippi State catcher Ryan Duffy was paralyzed from the neck down after diving off a dock in Key West, Fla., and breaking his neck. Then, at the end of this weekend, Wichita State senior two-way player Mitch Caster was killed in a car accident while driving back from Rochester, Minn., where he had just played in the Northwoods League championship series.
Police told the Wichita Eagle that Caster was driving an SUV that crossed a median and collided with a semi at about 12:15 a.m. Monday in West Des Moines. The Rochester Honkers said on their Twitter feed that fellow Honker Jimmy Waters (an outfielder for Kansas) saw the accident.
“We are all deeply saddened over the tragic loss of Mitch Caster,” said Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson in a statement. “Our entire team is devastated. Mitch was a fine young man and great teammate. The memories that every team member and coach has of him will always be cherished. May God bless and keep him. Our hearts go out to the entire Caster family in this time of grief.”
Caster, a pitcher and outfielder, played in 74 games during his three-year college career and also made 13 appearances on the mound. He was coming off a good summer, racking up 31 strikeouts in 28 innings of relief.
Duffy has been making progress since his diving accident, and Mississippi State coach John Cohen said doctors were working to stabilize his breathing.
"He was with some friends in Key West and jumped in head-first off of a dock," Cohen said. "He didn't know how shallow the water was, they think he maybe even hit an old piece of dock that was there. He broke several vertebrae, high up in the neck—they don't know if he'll ever walk or use his arms again. He's having to learn to breathe on his own."
Duffy hit 27 home runs over his last three seasons at Mississippi State before graduating this spring. Cohen said his health insurance ran out shortly after he graduated, so the school is trying to raise funds to help pay his medical expenses.
Those wishing to send Duffy well wishes or get in touch with his family can visit this website: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ryanduffy1.
Duffy's family set up a trust fund for him at Wachovia Bank for his recovery. Anyone looking to donate is asked to use the following information:
Ryan Duffy Recovery Account
Bonita Bay Financial Center
26791 S. Tamiami Trail,
Bonita Springs, FL 34134
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