Baseball Fan Shannon Stone Asked About Son After Fatal Fall

Could his final conversation have indicated a lucid interval?

ByABC News
July 8, 2011, 3:32 PM

July 8, 2011— -- Texas baseball fan Shannon Stone reportedly had a conversation with emergency personnel after falling from the stands and before dying in which he expressed concern for his young son.

Stone, 39, a Brownwood, Texas, firefighter, fell head first out of the stands during Thursday night's game at Arlington Stadium while trying to catch a ball tossed toward him by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. Stone fell about 20 feet before he landed on the concrete below.

In an interview with an ESPN reporter, Athletics relief pitcher Brad Ziegler said Stone was still conscious and able to talk as he was taken from the stadium.

"They had him on a stretcher. He said, 'Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself.' The people who carried him out reassured him, 'Sir, we'll get your son, we'll make sure he's OK,'" Ziegler told an ESPN reporter. "He had his arms swinging. He talked and was conscious. We assumed he was OK. But when you find out he's not, it's just tough."

The reports suggest that Stone may have experienced a period of time known as a lucid interval -- a window of conscious clarity after a traumatic injury.

Dr. William Goldberg, assistant professor of emergency medicine at NYU School of Medicine/Bellevue Hospital Center, said it would be hard for a physician to determine whether the episode represented a lucid interval or not unless they were present at the scene. But, he said, particularly in the case of bleeding in the brain, such instances can occur.

"A lucid interval is one of those things that is not understood very well," Goldberg said. "But when you have bleeding in the epidural space ... it can be a period of time before the bleed puts pressure on the brain that can lead to damage."

As for any patient who suffers a fall similar to Stone's, Goldberg said, "For injuries like this, it's pretty straightforward -- immediately take the patient to the hospital, immediate cat scan."

But, he added, in seemingly less-severe cases, a lucid interval can give medical personnel a false sense that a person is unhurt.

One such example is the tumble that Tony award-winning actress Natasha Richardson experienced on the slopes of a Canadian ski resort in 2009. While her fall appeared benign, she suffered a specific type of traumatic brain injury in which blood accumulates in the space between the outer membrane of the brain and the skull. That type of injury, called an epidural hematoma, often results from a blunt, concussive impact on the skull. Epidural hematomas are particularly dangerous because they can lead to increased pressure around the brain and fatal damage to critical brain tissue.

Following a window of lucidity, Richardson relapsed into a state of unconsciousness and deterioration of brain tissue, which eventually led to her death.

Goldberg said Stone's case differed in that his injuries clearly demanded medical attention. However, he said that those experiencing less-severe head trauma should seek medical attention if there are any doubts as to their level of injury.

ABC News' Kevin Dolak contributed to this report.