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Tragedy hits softball opening with player's death during game
Cleveland--Tragedy struck on the first day of the North Coast Athletic Association Softball League’s season May 6, with the death of player Kayte Marie Jones.
Jones, who was playing right center field for the Union Station Pistol Whips, collapsed in the outfield during her team’s 5:30 pm game at Gordon Park on East 72nd Street. It was also her 25th birthday.
While her friend Nate Louis kept her airway clear and talked to Jones, coach Jessica Rosenblatt and other members performed CPR.
An ambulance was called, which took 20 minutes to arrive on the scene. According to Rosenblatt, when it got there, the emergency medical technicians walked to the outfield, despite cries from the players to hurry.
Rosenblatt said that a police cruiser, parked in the lot at the fields, drove away when notified of Jones’ collapse.
Calls to the Cleveland Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Medical Service office were not returned by press time.
Rosenblatt said that Jones was still breathing when the ambulance arrived, but died en route to University Hospitals. A half-hour of work to restart her heart and respiration at the hospital was in vain.
Jones had issues previously with an enlarged heart, which is believed by her friends to be a factor in her death.
“She worked out and played softball,” Rosenblatt noted. “She wasn’t the most athletic person that I know of. She knew she had an enlarged heart.”
At press time, an autopsy had been completed, but Jones’ family had not yet received the report for the official cause of death.
Jones’ girlfriend, Renee Goldstein, noted that, while she and Kayte were dating, her death was a blow to everyone who knew her.
“No one person is hurting any more or any less than the other, we are all grieving together as a group,” she said. “She would have wanted us together.”
“Kayte had a way of looking at you that made everyone else in the room disappear,” Goldstein said. “When she was with you, she was right where she wanted to be.”
Jones enjoyed playing softball, but it was not the sport itself that drew her.
“She truly understood the important things in life and never took anything for granted,” Goldstein continued. “She spoke with such passion--her family, her friends, her cat, her art--they were all her passion.”
Jones was a graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design.
“Kayte was extremely driven and her creativity was endless. She had this gift that allowed her to see the beauty in everything and she, in turn, gave that beauty back to all of us,” Goldstein opined. “She was breathtakingly beautiful and had a style all her own. She was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever known.”
“I can still feel the warmth of her eyes and the tenderness of her embrace,” she said.
While Rosenblatt credits everyone with their efforts to keep Jones’ heart and respiration going while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, she was especially proud of Louis’ efforts, noting he was the first one to help Jones.
“Every time he told her to take a breath, she inhaled,” she recalled warmly.
League commissioner Greg Rivera believes that services will be held on May 11 in Jones’ native Dayton.
“We are very saddened by this as she was a beautiful, friendly woman and good friends to many in our league,” he wrote to team managers on May 8.
In that email, he also mentioned a memorial fundraiser for Jones on the evening of May 9. In addition, a planned tribute on May 11 for Twist owner John Katsaros, who sponsors many sports teams, will see the league’s portion of a 50/50 raffle donated to Jones’ family to help with the expenses involved in her death.
“As needed, we may ask our tight-knit community, the NCAA Softball League, to contribute a few dollars, if necessary, to help her family in this time of need,” Rivera wrote. “If we all contributed $3, we could raise about $1,000.”
Those who wish to donate to Jones’ family to help with the costs of her services and other expenditures are asked to email league vice-commissioner Rob Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org.