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Kelowna pickleball player dies during Vernon tournament

Man, 49, complained of sore shoulder, then collapsed; despite heroic efforts, he could not be saved
A Kelowna man in his late 40s collapsed and died during a Vernon Pickleball Association one-day tournament Saturday, May 11. (Vernon Pickleball Association photo)

A Kelowna man, 49, died during a Vernon Pickleball Association (VPA) one-day mixed doubles tournament Saturday, May 11.

The man, who had already played a couple of matches, was warming up between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. when he told his playing partner he felt soreness in his shoulder.

“He leaned on the fence, then collapsed,” said VPA tournament director Richard Chambers.

The match referee immediately called for medical to attend, and a woman had already called 9-1-1.

“By the grace of God,” said Chambers, a retired intensive care unit nurse was at a nearby court watching her husband play, and immediately started tending to the man.

The incident happened right beside where the VPA’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machine is located, and was put into action by the tournament’s first-aid attendant, who happens to be a doctor – all VPA events have a first-aid attendant on-hand, said Chambers.

Three firefighters from Vernon Fire Rescue Service’s Hall No. 2 on Okanagan Landing Road – less than a kilometre from the VPA facility at Marshall Field – were on-scene within five minutes, and took over from the doctor and retired nurse.

“They worked on him for a very long time, trying to save him,” said Chambers. “Unfortunately, he could not be resuscitated.”

The tournament, the third of three one-day events hosted by VPA, was cancelled. It had drawn 135 players, and all players were sent home.

The Kelowna man has been a fixture at VPA events.

“He and a crew around the same age always attend our tournaments,” said Chambers.

The VPA tournament team met following the incident to review the situation. If there was any silver lining to this event, said Chambers, it was that everything in the association’s protocol for such an event was followed to the letter.

And, he said, they had some extra help.

“We have a plan. We have equipment,” he said. “We had a nurse being there putting her skills set to use. The fire department was amazing. They were there so fast with their heavy artillery, and they did everything possible to save him.”

The tournament will not be replayed.

The VPA will give support to the man’s family.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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