Julia Budzinski, the 17-year-old, eldest daughter of Toronto Blue Jays’ first base coach Mark “Bud” Budzinski, died Saturday in a boating accident, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR).
Budzinski was tubing on the Saint James River in Richmond, Va., close to where the teenager and her family lived in the nearby suburb Henrico. She was one of two people on the inflatable tube at the time, both of whom fell off. According to the DWR statement, the boat pulling them turned back around to collect them when Budzinski was struck by one of the boat’s propellers.
Operators from the initial boat and a passing boat reportedly jumped in to pull her out of the water. She was then rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead.
Neither foul play nor alcohol are suspected to be a factor in the accident, according to investigators.
Julia Budzinski’s parents spoke at a vigil Sunday night where her mom, Monica, described her daughter as “happy, laughing, having a good time.”
She went on to say, “that’s the way I’m going to remember her. That’s the way everybody needs to remember her. She just loved life.”
The loss has been felt beyond Richmond, with teams across the MLB extending condolences to the Budzinski family and honoring Julia.
Mark Budzinski left Toronto’s Saturday game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the third inning, citing a “personal matter.” In the days since news of Budzinski’s daughter’s death broke, the team confirmed that he was taking time away from the team.
The two teams opened up the final matchup of a triple header on Sunday with a moment of silence and a picture of Julia Budzinski sporting a Toronto Blue Jays T-shirt.
Budzinski was drafted in the 21st round of the 1995 MLB Draft out of the University of Richmond, where he and his wife both attended. He played professionally for 11 years and made four major league appearances in 2003 before retiring in 2005. He returned to baseball in 2014 and joined the Blue Jays in 2018.
“The Budzinskis have been part of our Blue Jays family over the last four seasons,” general manager Ross Atkins said in a statement Sunday. “This devastating loss is felt by our entire organization and we grieve alongside Bud and his family. I have known Bud for more than 25 years and have always admired his commitment as a dad and husband first. He is loved and well-respected by our entire clubhouse and holds a special place in all our hearts.”