VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A man is dead after running in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, according to race spokesperson Dan Cruz.
Virginia Beach EMS Chief Ed Brazle said 13 people were taken to the hospital over the course of the half marathon, and one of those 13 died.
50-year-old Larry Wegner, of Glen Allen, collapsed near the intersection of Pacific Avenue and 24th Street shortly after beginning the race. Brazle said EMS performed CPR on him before he was transported to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. He died there later in the afternoon.
10 On Your Side talked to runners at the Virginia Beach Marathon. They said the man appeared to be in good shape starting the race, and began in an advanced wave. Runner Fred Davis said about a mile into the race, the man collapsed.
Davis and his friend Yarrum Bland were looking forward to the race on Sunday. It was Davis' first 5K. He said things were going well until he saw a man lying on the ground.
"It was probably about 10 minutes before we got to the one mile point," said Davis. "When we got there EMS was on scene and they were working feverishly to resuscitate the man."
10 On Your Side talked to other runners who said the man was bleeding and had a gash on his head.
"It was scary to see somebody collapse and fall so soon into the race, and possibly not make it," said Davis.
"We knew it was serious the way they were doing the chest compressions on the chest," said Bland.
The Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad was on the scene quickly, but there was nothing that could be done.
"They were guiding everybody off to the left side and they were really working on him," said Davis. "You could tell it was something serious when we got there."
It is unclear if the man fell or how he died. Instead of speculating or wondering, Davis and Bland said they will be praying for the family members who lost a loved one at the race.
"The best thing that we can do as people that were there is just pray for him and his family," said Bland.
This is not the first time tragedy has struck the Virginia Beach Rock 'N' Roll Marathon. The race has had three other deaths in its history in 2005, 2009, 2010.
Brazle said the following about safety measures taken at Virginia Beach marathons:
The City of Virginia Beach, in conjunction with race organizers, provides a large medical and public safety contingent at this and other marathons held within the city. Numerous emergency medical personnel are deployed in walking teams, bicycle teams, and ATVs. Medical tents and ambulances are strategically stationed along the race route. Firefighters are deployed in quick response vehicles and ATVs in order to answer emergent fire incidents as well assist with medical emergencies. Any emergency involving a race participant or spectator receives a combined response utilizing the closest available resources operating as a single team.
Statement from event medical director Dr. P.Z. Pearce:
We regretfully confirm that the participant who collapsed early in today's race passed away this afternoon at the hospital. This is a tragic loss and our deepest sympathies go out to the runner's family and friends. We are grateful for the rapid response of the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad, who were immediately on the scene. We have been in touch with the family and ask everyone to respect their request for privacy, and to keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
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