RICHMOND, Virginia – The 17-year-old daughter of Toronto Blue Jays head coach Mark Budzinski died in a boat accident in Virginia over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources spokeswoman Paige Pearson said Julia Budzinski was one of two girls who fell from a pipe being pulled behind a boat in the James River in Richmond on Saturday.
When the boat operator returned to get the girls out of the water, Pearson said, the boat hit a wave, causing it to push over Budzinski and hit her with a propeller. The boat driver and another passing boat operator jumped into the water to try to rescue Budzinski, who was pronounced dead in hospital.
Pearson said he does not suspect any evil play and alcohol is not a factor. “It was a terrible accident,” she said.
As news of the incident spread, a vigil was held Sunday night at Glen Allen High School, where Budzinski was a sophomore and played soccer and other sports.
“It was a very happy and joyful day for her on Earth,” 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 game of the team’s second double-header game against the Rays on Saturday after learning of his daughter’s death.
The Blue Jays later released a statement saying that he would be taking some time away from the team to mourn his family.
There was a moment of silence for Julia Budzinsky before the end of the Sunday series.
“My heart breaks for Bud,” Toronto coach Charlie Montoyo said after the match. “There are good men and great men. He is a great man. He is a special kind of person. His family is wonderful. The only thing I can share about what happened is that he left a note for the team. He did this while going through a tragedy, and that tells you all about him.”
University of Richmond graduate Mark Budzinski played four games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 and retired in 2005. After managing in the Cleveland minor league system, he joined the Indian Major League team in 2017. Toronto named Budzinski in November 2018.