HARRISBURG, Pa. — Update, 9:20 a.m. (May 24): 19-year-old Angel Mercado-Ocasio has succumbed to the severe injuries he sustained in Monday's collapse, according to an announcement from Central Penn College, where he was a student and a member of the baseball team.
Central Penn College president Linda Fedrizzi-Williams made the somber announcement in an email to students and staff on Wednesday.
"Our Central Penn College family is devastated by the loss of Angel," the email said. "As friends who have become family, we are mourning the heart-wrenching loss of one of our own, a promising young athlete who senselessly lost his life while helping others enjoy the sport he loved so much.
"No words can adequately express our anguish.
"Our baseball team all said their good-byes to Angel yesterday and expressed their love to their brother. We will all be changed because Angel is no longer with us, but we will also be changed because he was.
"It is with heavy hearts that we offer our sincere sympathy to Angel’s family, friends, teammates and coaches, who will bear the burden of his absence most acutely."
Ocasio-Mercado, of Harrisburg, was a freshman at Central Penn who played second base and shortstop. The Knights won an Eastern States Athletic Conference title this past spring.
Harrisburg Mayor Wanda R.D. Williams has released the following statement on the passing of Mercado-Ocasio:
“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Angel Mercado-Ocasio. Anytime someone passes, we lose a little bit of who we are. It hurts even more when it’s one of our own. Angel was our son; a proud Harrisburg Cougar, and a stand-out, promising young athlete. He died helping others around the sport he loved. It’s heart-wrenching. Angel embraced so many people and now we need to embrace his memory. We ask everyone in the community to pray for his family, his friends, and his teammates, as we get through this impossibly difficult time together. The City of Harrisburg would like to extend our sincere condolences and prayers to the family.”
A 19-year-old is fighting for his life after a wooden dugout collapsed on him in Harrisburg.
“I want my kid back, I truly want him back. I need him, he’s been part of my life for 18 years," said Gerardo Diaz, or Coach Cuba, as his players call him.
He's praying one of them makes a miraculous recovery.
Angel Ocasio-Mercado, 19, was hospitalized after a wooden dugout collapsed on him Monday afternoon at the 7th and Radnor baseball field in Harrisburg.
According to Matt Maisel, director of communications for the city of Harrisburg, Ocasio-Mercado was not initially breathing but was revived when first responders performed CPR.
As of 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the young man was still in the ICU listed in critical condition.
“[I was in the area and] I saw the ambulance I couldn’t pass and I thought it had to be going [to the field] then when I heard at night what happened, I was like, I was surprised, like wow," said Frenny Ruiz, who's played baseball with Ocasio.
Angel, along with Diaz and a few other players were taking down one of two dugouts they built themselves after the city informed them Monday morning they weren’t legal.
“Anybody who wants to build something on city property, in this case, a park, has to be contracted out by the city," said Maisel.
According to the coach, the young men weren’t being careful while doing the work.
“Kids will be kids and I kept trying to get their attention," said Diaz. "I kept saying ‘Please stop fooling around, hold it firm.’”
Maisel says because the men used their own materials to build, they’re responsible for getting rid of them.
Meanwhile, the coach is taking full responsibility, saying he misunderstood what he was and wasn't allowed to do on the field.
He tells FOX43 he was only trying to help his players who haven’t had a dugout to sit in during games.
“You can see I mean well, all I wanted to do is please the kids and build something," said Diaz.
The city has closed the field to the public for now.
Maisel says the city's Parks and Rec. Department will finish taking down both dugouts as soon as they can after insurance adjusters finish a site review.
Because an accident happened on City grounds, authorities have to document and take pictures for their own keeping, according to Maisel.
At this point, Maisel says no legal action is being taken against the city and the city is not planning any legal action against the coach or players.
The field at 7th and Radnor is one of several city parks in desperate need of major improvements.
The city was awarded a $13 million grant in October of 2022 for such projects but Maisel says they are still going through a public comment process to determine how exactly the money will be used.
Corrections: City officials initially identified Ocasio-Mercado as Angel Ocasio, and said he was 18, not 19.