Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Boy, 4, killed by ball in park
A pitch hits the child's chest and causes his heart to stop.
By THOMAS LAKE and HELEN ANNE TRAVIS, Times Staff Writers
Published November 3, 2007
WESLEY CHAPEL - Near the center of Pasco County, in a community called Seven Oaks, there is a park where the grass is brilliant green and cut to the depth of shag carpet. There, around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, a baseball sailed through the twilight.
The ball came from the left hand of Ryan Leonard, 10, an outstanding first baseman for the Tampa Bay Stealth of the Amateur Athletic Union. He was training to become a pitcher. He was aiming for a pitchback net.
There is no telling how many times he will relive that pitch, how many times people will tell him it was not his fault. There is no calculating the odds of what happened next.
According to a sheriff's report, a 4-year-old neighbor boy named Cayden Hueles was also in the park. Just as Ryan released the ball, Cayden got away from his older brother and walked in front of the net.
Cayden loved baseball too. He dressed as Spider-Man for Halloween. The ball flew toward his heart.
Barry Maron, a cardiologist who has studied such things, explains what happened next:
Every time a heart beats, it goes through what is known as electrical relaxation. This relaxation lasts 15 milliseconds, or about one sixty-seventh of a second. This is when the heart is vulnerable.
This is when a blow to the heart can make the heart stop.
This was when the ball struck Cayden.
He took a couple of steps. Then he fell to the ground, gasping for air.
He had commotio cordis, a concussion of the heart.
It is a rare medical phenomenon. Maron keeps a file on such occurrences, and only five to 10 are reported each year. Most are fatal.
Even though it is rare, commotio cordis is the second-leading cause of death in youth athletics, according to a paper in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology by Maron and four other doctors. It is often caused by small, dense projectiles such as hockey pucks, lacrosse balls and baseballs. It can kill without visible bruise or injury.
Ryan's father, Tom Leonard, was there when the ball hit Cayden. He carried Cayden home. Someone called 911. Rescuers arrived and administered CPR. It was too late.
At 7:23 p.m. at University Community Hospital, Cayden was pronounced dead.
His family declined to speak to reporters Friday, as did Ryan's family. At 5 p.m. the park was nearly empty except for television news crews. Beige houses cast long shadows over a swing set. The air smelled of fresh-cut grass.
In a telephone interview, Ryan's coach, Tim Henderson of the Tampa Bay Stealth, said that Ryan is the only player he knows of to wear a heart guard, a special plastic shield that is supposed to prevent things like commotio cordis.
In their paper, published in January 2007, Maron and his colleagues said that such shields don't work. Some players who wore them were killed anyway.
When asked what could be done to prevent a death like Cayden's, Maron had this answer:
Times researchers Shirl Kennedy and Tim Rozgonyi contributed to this report. Thomas Lake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.