Julia Budzinski, daughter of Toronto Blue Jays coach Mark Budzinski, dies in tragic accident

The 17-year-old was tubing when she was killed in a "freak accident".

July 05, 2022, 1:33 PM

The 17-year-old daughter of the Toronto Blue Jays' first base coach died in a "freak accident" during a day of tubing with family and friends on the James River in Virginia.

Julia Budzinski, daughter of coach Mark Budzinski, was tubing behind a boat on the James River with her sister on Saturday when the two girls fell off the tube into the water, the Virginia Department of Wildlife said.

After the pair had fallen into the water, a family friend who was operating the boat turned back around to get the girls. However, a wave came up from under the boat, which brought the boat up over Julia, resulting in a propeller hitting her under the water, according to the department.

Paige Pearson, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Wildlife, told ABC News the boat operator immediately jumped into the water to try and save Julia, who was then brought to land and rushed to the hospital.

Despite the fast reaction, Julia was pronounced dead on Saturday, July 2. Pearson told ABC News both girls were wearing life jackets and there was no alcohol or foul play involved.

"It was just a freak accident," Pearson said.

Julia's mother, Monica, and sister, Lily, were both on the boat with Julia throughout the day. Her mother said at a vigil held at her school Sunday night that it "was a very happy, fun last day on earth for her, sadly, obviously, until till the end," according to WTVR.

"She was happy, laughing having a good time and that's the way I'm going to remember her. That's the way everybody needs to remember her. She just loved life. She loved being outside, sports, everything," Budzinski continued, per WTVR.

Mark Budzinski, Julia's father, was in Toronto during the accident, serving as the first base coach for the Blue Jays during a game. The team was playing the second game of a doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays when Budzinski left the dugout suddenly, according to CTV Toronto.

Manager Charlie Montoyo repeatedly left the dugout for the clubhouse during the game, and bench coach John Schneider filled in as manager during the series of brief absences, CTV Toronto reported. The Blue Jays also closed their clubhouse off from reporters, announcing there would be no post game media availability, as the coaching staff supported Budzinski in a "personal matter," according to CTV Toronto.

On Sunday, the Blue Jays issued a statement recognizing Budzinski and 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 in the statement.

"I have known Bud for more than 25 years and have always admired his commitment as a dad and husband first," Atkins added.

PHOTO: Tampa Bay Rays players and staff stand for a moment of silence on the death of Julia Budzinski, the eldest daughter of first base coach Mark Budzinski, ahead of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre, July 3, 2022, in Toronto, Canada.
Tampa Bay Rays players and staff stand for a moment of silence on the death of Julia Budzinski, the eldest daughter of first base coach Mark Budzinski, ahead of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre, July 3, 2022, in Toronto, Canada.
Cole Burston/Getty Images

Budzinski will be taking a leave of absence from the Blue Jays to mourn with his family, the statement said.

Prior to the start of the Blue Jays game on Sunday, the stadium hosted a moment of silence for Julia.

"Yesterday the Blue Jays tragically lost a member of its family, Julia Budzinski," an announcer said before the game.

"This devastating loss is felt by our entire organization, and we grieve alongside Bud and his family," the announcer added.

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