Tragedy has struck for the Toronto Blue Jays coach Mark Budzinski as his daughter died from a fatal accident. Julia Budzinski, the 17-year-old daughter of the first base coach, passed away in what is described as a “freak accident” while tubing on the James River in Virginia with friends and family.
On Saturday, she was tubing behind a boat with her sister Lily when the two fell off the tube and into the water, according to a Virginia Department of Wildlife report on the incident.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) July 3, 2022
Once they entered the water, the boat operator, also a family friend, turned back around in an attempt to rescue them. Tragedy struck as a wave came from under the boat, bringing the vessel over Julia, resulting in a propeller hitting her under the water.
“It was just a freak accident,” said Paige Pearson, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Wildlife. Pearson confirmed that the sisters were wearing life jackets.
The boat operator reportedly immediately jumped into the water to try and save Julia, and she was brought out of the water and rushed to the hospital expeditiously. However, she was unfortunately pronounced dead that same day, Saturday, July 2.
The sisters had no alcohol in their system, and no foul play was involved. Their mother was aboard the boat. Additionally, her sister had been with Julia throughout the day until the fateful accident.
Mark Budzinski was in Toronto when the accident occurred. The team had a game against the Tampa Bay Rays, and he was on duty as the first base coach. However, when the team was playing in the second doubleheader game, Budzinski suddenly left the dugout when he received the tragic news.
A vigil was held at Julia’s school on Sunday night, where her mother reportedly comforted the attendees that it “was a very happy, fun last day on earth for her, sadly, obviously, until till the end.”
“She was happy, laughing, having a good time, and that’s the way I’m going to remember her,” Budzinski continued, according to WTVR. “That’s the way everybody needs to remember her. She just loved life. She loved being outside, sports, everything.”
“Yeah, first things first, our thoughts and prayers to Mark [Budzinski], the first base coach for the Blue Jays and the Blue Jay family. I just found out about his daughter passing away in an accident. It puts everything in perspective." — Alex Cora.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) July 3, 2022
The Blue Jays released a statement confirming that Budzinski would be taking a leave of absence from the Blue Jays to grieve with his family.
“The Budzinskis have been part of our Blue Jays family over the last four seasons. This devastating loss is felt by our entire organization and we grieve alongside Bud and his family,” Ross Atkins, executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager of the Blue Jays, said. “I have known Bud for more than 25 years and have always admired his commitment as a dad and husband first,” Atkins continued.
During the Blue Jays vs. Rays series, the Tampa Bay players and staff stood for a moment of silence after the death of Julia ahead of their game on July 3, 2022.
“Yesterday the Blue Jays tragically lost a member of its family, Julia Budzinski,” the Rogers Centre announcer said before the game. “This devastating loss is felt by our entire organization, and we grieve alongside Bud and his family.”