Hundreds of mourners gather to pay respects to Shannon Stone, Rangers fan who died in freak accident
Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay respects to Shannon Stone, the firefighter who died in a freak accident trying to catch a ball at a Rangers game.

The ball was tossed into the stands toward Stone by All-Star Josh Hamilton at last Thursday's Rangers baseball game against the Oakland A's.

The noon-time funeral fearured 10 firefighters carrying the 39-year-old father's casket to a fire engine parked in front of the First United Methodist Church in Brownwood, Texas.

Firefighters from surrounding areas offered to cover the Brownwood fire department so that all of its members could attend the funeral.

"He was an all-around good guy," said Jarratt Lawler, who went to high school with Stone. "He was just always trying to help people, always did the right things."

Mourners remembered him as a great firefighter and father, who had been voted firefighter of the year twice by his peers.

He was attending the game with his 6-year-old son Cooper when he fell over a railing and landed 20-feet below onto concrete while his son - and Hamilton - looked on in horror.

Witnesses said he was conscious after landing, but was pronounced dead within an hour.

The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma.

At the memorial service on Sunday, mourners were still in shock at the circumstances surrounding Stone's death.

"When you're married to someone that's a first responder, you go into it knowing there's that possibility," said Trease Burke, whose husband, Scotty, was a Brownwood police officer for 14 years and is now on the Lake Patrol. "But you don't expect it to be like this. ... You don't expect it to be a freak accident."

In memory of Stone, the Rangers set up an account in the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation where well-wishers can donate money to help the Stone family.

The Rangers donated an undisclosed sum and the A's donated $5,000, reported.

Flags at the Rangers' ballpark have also been flying half-staff since the tragic incident and both teams wore black ribbons on the uniforms during the remainder of their series.

Hamilton, who was in Phoenix for the All-Star game, did not appear to have attended the funeral.

But by all accounts, he has been devastated by the accident.
Josh has handled everything with class," Rangers manager Ron Washington said during a news conference to announce the lineups for Tuesday's All-Star Game. "As an athlete, a baseball player, when you have things that are affecting you off the field, you can't wait to get on the field. You can focus on what you need to focus on and not focus on something that can be distracting."

On Sunday, Hamilton said he saw the accident happen - and was still trying to recover.

"It's going to be in the back of my mind for a while," he said.

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