The Bulletin Friday, June 15, 2007
Family, Friends Mourn Tragic Death of Local Blind Goalball Athlete
By David Block
Mourners gathered at the Zion Baptist Church on Wednesday to pay their last respects to Darryl Devon Green, 24, of Kensington, who died in a hit-and-run accident on June 3 in St. Augustine, Fla.
Philadelphia – Mourners gathered at the Zion Baptist Church on Wednesday to pay their last respects to Darryl Devon Green, 24, of Kensington, who died in a hit-and-run accident on June 3 in St. Augustine, Fla.
Green was a call-taker for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and a member of the Pennsylvania Venom, a Philadelphia-area goalball team.
Green’s death sparked a lot of media attention in Philadelphia and in St. Augustine because he was totally blind due to Glaucoma.
“The media has paid more attention to his blindness than to his abilities,” said his father, Isaac Green of Bridgeton, N.J. “Yes, my son was blind, but there was a lot more to him than that. He had a great heart, he was a great person. He’s been portrayed as a challenged child, but he was an independent, grown man.”
The weekend of June 1-3, Green and his goalball teammates competed in the 2007 United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Goalball National Championships in St. Augustine at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. His team finished second overall, losing to Michigan in the final match.
Goalball is an international team sport played by the blind and visually impaired. Two teams of three players (right wing, center and left wing) square off for two 10-minute periods. A player rolls the goalball, a partially deflated rubber ball with bells inside, to the other team’s net. The players dive onto the ground, block the goalball and have 10 seconds to roll the goalball back to the other team. The game is played indoors on a volleyball-size court with two fully-sighted referees who are licensed with the International Blind Sports Association. All players, blind and partially sighted, must wear opaque eyeshades, which puts everyone on an equal footing.
After the tournament ended, Green returned to his hotel to use the bathroom and then headed out to meet some goalball players, according to his teammate, John Mulhern. Green walked out of the hotel alone and tried to get directions from another goalball player on his cell phone on where they were. Unfortunately, he was unaware that the hotel driveway merged into the highway because there was no step-down curb. As soon as he inadvertently stepped onto the highway, a driver ran him over. It was 1:15 a.m.
“If the hotel driveway had a curb, Darryl wouldn’t have ended up on the highway,” Mulhern said.
On his Web site, Mulhern expressed his annoyance with the outrage leveled against his team for allowing a totally blind person to travel alone because blindness does not mean helplessness.
“Darryl was very independent,” Mulhern said.
Mark Lucas, Executive Director of USABA said, “A hit and run accident can kill anyone. Some of my daughter’s (fully-sighted) friends were killed several years ago while crossing the street.”
His Last Goalball Tournament
Lucas remembered that Green played some outstanding goalball games that fateful weekend in Florida.
“One game in particular really stands out,” said Lucas. “Darryl’s team was losing to the Utah Explosion, 7-1. Last year, Utah won the National Goalball Championships. Trailing behind last year’s champions did not intimidate Darryl or his teammates. Darryl’s team came roaring back to win, 8-7. The enthusiasm from the Pennsylvania team was incredible. Even when down, 7-1, the players knew that they had a chance to win, and part of the reason was Darryl’s presence on the court. He and his teammates always played with passion and never gave up, whether it’s the first tick of the clock or the last. He had the same enthusiastic attitude toward life as he had playing goalball.”
At Green’s funeral service, Mulhern announced that his team will dedicate its next season to him and will retire his No. 4 jersey.
Green’s teammates fondly remembered his contribution to winning the 2003 National Goalball Championships at Cabrini College. They nicknamed him “Rattler” because of the way he slithered around other players.
“I remember when he first started playing goalball about 10 years ago,” said his teammate/goalball coach, Greg Gontaryk. “We had a good relationship. He always listened to what I said. He tried to help out the other guys on the team. I enjoyed my time with him.”
Gontaryk found the unexpected death shocking: “I was the first to be told that he had died. The trip back to Philadelphia was difficult because we came down to Florida with five guys and went home with four. I swear that at the airport I heard Darryl’s voice. Maybe it was because I was so used to hearing him. We were a very close team.”
On June 6, three days after Green’s demise, the St. Augustine Police arrested 26-year-old Semaj M. Massey of Jacksonville, Fla., for allegedly running over Green and then fleeing the scene of the accident.
Sgt. Barry Fox of the St. Augustine police department said police found a 1998 white Ford SV registered to Massey a few blocks from the scene of the accident. Police matched debris from the damaged car to that found at the crash scene, Fox said.
A memorial fund has been set up to help defray funeral-related expenses. Donations can be mailed to: Darryl Green Memorial Fund, C/O Citizens Bank, 323 Old York Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046.
Green is survived by his father, Isaac Darryl Green, III of Bridgeton, N.J.; his mother, Lorraine Marie Campbell of Philadelphia; his sister, Angell Carolyn Moffitt of Woodbine, N.J.; and two brothers, Isaac Darius Green of Newport News, Va.; and Caleb Darion Jones of Wildwood, N.J.