Death of boy, 6, prompts soccer goal law

August 2, 2011 10:06:40 AM PDT
Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill Tuesday that honors a north suburban boy killed in a soccer accident.

Zach Tran's family hopes that loss prevents future tragedies.

Governor Quinn signed the bill in Waukegan at a sports park.

Zach, 6, of Vernon Hills, died in 2003 after a soccer goal fell on him. His parents say since then they have made it their mission to improve the safety of soccer goals, which may be too light or unsecure, causing them to topple onto children.

The law bans the manufacture or sale of new soccer goals that are not tip resistant. Older goals must be properly anchored to the field.

Zach's mother described what happened in her son's death.

"The coroner tested it, and it took 25 pounds of force to pull it over at 2 feet tall. So really, a toddler could pull it over or the wind could knock it over, or if it had been at all on an incline, you know, these things are just really unstable," Michelle Tran said.

Zach's parents say in the last eight years since their son's death that 10 other children have died in cases of goals falling on them on soccer fields.

"There's a hole in our heart that will always be with us," said Michelle Tran, Zach's mother. "But we hope that we've turned this tragedy into something important and special for him."

"This has happened too often, causing injury and death, not only here but elsewhere across the country. So we're a state that's leading the way. I think this is really a number-one, model law in the country for safety when it comes to soccer goals and protecting those who compete,' Quinn said.

"He'd be looking down on us right now, smiling and saying, 'You guys did a great thing. I love playing soccer. I love being outdoors and doing all this stuff.' And now he knows that kids can be out here playing and being safe," dad Jayson Tran said.

At the new Waukegan Sports Park where Quinn signed the bill, the superintendent says all of the goals are new and came with equipment that chains them in place

"They're moved in position like this. They're secured down to a brace in the ground. They're secured, locked down so they cannot be moved," said Mike Trigg, Waukegan Park District superintendent.

The bill passed unanimously in the Illinois General Assembly.