San Diego

SUHSD Pays Millions to a Student Hurt By Unsecured Goal Post

In March 2015 an unsecured soccer goal post fell on Marco LaFarga, fracturing his skull and jaw

The Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) will pay $9.3 million to a family whose son was seriously hurt during physical education class at Eastlake Middle School in Chula Vista.

In March 2015 an unsecured soccer goal post fell on Marco LaFarga, fracturing his skull and jaw.

An eighth-grader at the time, La Farga had tried to do a pull up on the post before it fell on him.

He was airlifted to Rady Children’s Hospital where he spent more than a month receiving treatment.

His Attorney, Horacio Barraza says LaFarga suffered hearing loss, memory loss, and blurred vision. Barraza also said LaFarga “will need additional medical treatment; he will need additional cerebral angiograms.”

Last month, NBC 7 Investigates looked at soccer goal safety in the city of San Diego, and found goals not properly stored, that is, not locked to a fence or to each other when not in use.

NBC 7 Investigates also found goals not anchored down during soccer practices. At the time, the soccer clubs said they would make changes to ensure safety.

NBC 7 Investigates went back three weeks later to check.

At Robb Field in Ocean Beach, NBC 7 Investigates found the goals still were not properly stored and locked. A spokesperson for the club that uses Robb Field sent NBC 7 Investigates this statement:

“Since your original broadcast and conversation with us regarding soccer goal safety, we have implemented steps to meet the recommendations noted in your broadcast. To that end, we have initiated a tighter stacking of the goals each evening, with double cable locks on each side ensuring the immobility of the goals so that they cannot me moved or tipped. Moreover, we secure the entire assembly to a fixed object, so that the goals cannot be moved in mass.

Additionally, we are investigating whether a larger cage can be constructed at the facility so that all goals can be locked within the cage each night. On the weekends, when not in use, the goals are broken down and stored in a smaller cage. When the goals are in use by other user groups on the weekends, we have initiated a contractual process with them, mandating that they return to the condition/position in which they were provided and that the assembly is re-locked using the cable procedure noted above.

Unfortunately, last night the personnel that we utilize to perform the procedure was unexpectedly called away early in the evening, and the goals were stacked without the cable locks. It was unfortunate and was the first time they were not locked since your original story aired. We fully support the safety recommendations advanced by your broadcast, and can assure you that these goals will continue to be locked and stored in a safe manner.”

Later, the spokesman added, the club “has added another layer in which our goal crews must text me and our director every night confirming "goals locked."

At Hickman Field, NBC 7 Investigates still found only one side of the posts was locked to the fences, rather than both sides. NBC 7 Investigates did see a change.

The turf manager said sandbags are now being used to anchor the goals during practices, saying the club took action immediately.

“There’s no reason not to take it seriously. The impact of what could happen is too big.”

Barraza said the LaFarga family is mindful of the fact that this accident, as unfortunate as it was, put the spotlight on some of these issues.

The SUHSD said it has learned lessons and has taken safety and precautionary steps to make sure something like this never happens again.

Contact Us