Blue Jays 1B trainer’s daughter dies in Virginia tubing accident

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The 17-year-old daughter of Toronto Blue Jays first base coach Mark Budzinski died in a boating accident in Virginia over the weekend, authorities said Monday.

Julia Budzinski was one of two girls who fell from a tube being pulled behind a boat on Richmond’s James River on Saturday, said Paige Pearson, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

As the boatman returned to get the girls out of the water, the boat hit a wave, pushing it onto Budzinski and hitting her with the propeller, Pearson said. The boatman and the operator of another passing boat jumped into the water to try to save Budzinski, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.

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Pearson said no foul play would be suspected and alcohol was not a factor. “It was a terrible accident,” she said.

As news of the accident spread, a vigil was held Sunday night at Glen Allen High School, where Budzinski was a rising senior and played football and other sports.

“It was a very happy and fun last day on earth for her,” her mother, Monica Budzinski, said at the vigil. “She was happy, laughing, having a good time and that’s how I will remember her.”

Mark Budzinski left the Blue Jays in the third inning of the second game of the team’s doubleheader against the Rays on Saturday after learning of his daughter’s death.

The Blue Jays later issued a statement saying he would be taking some time away from the team to grieve with his family.

Before the series finale on Sunday, there was a minute’s silence for Julia Budzinski.

“My heart breaks for Bud,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said after the game. “There are good men and great men. He’s a great man. He’s a special guy. His family is great. The only thing I can share about what happened is that he left a message for the team. He did this while going through tragedy and that says a lot about him.”

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University of Richmond graduate Mark Budzinski played four games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 and retired in 2005. After acting in Cleveland’s minor league system, he moved to the then-Native American Big League in 2017. Toronto hired Budzinski in November 2018.


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