Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Eyewitness Disputes Accounts of Accident That Killed Blodgett

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Eyewitness Disputes Accounts of Accident That Killed Blodgett

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

A Ponte Vedra Beach native and free-lance photographer disputed other eyewitness accounts of an accident last week that killed Jacksonville resident Brian Blodgett as he was filming a Shell's Wonderful World of Golf match at a California course.

Mike Brinson, 39, who worked with Blodgett on more than 30 Shell's matches, said Blodgett's fall was not the result of forklift driver James Hancock pulling away from an area near the second green of the Santa Lucia Preserve course near Carmel, Calif. Blodgett had been filming a match between Fred Couples and Mark Calcavecchia from a platform atop the forklift's retractable arm.

A witness had told the California Highway Patrol that Hancock had driven the forklift over an uneven patch of ground, causing the platform -- and Blodgett -- to topple over.

Blodgett, 37, was killed as a result of head trauma when he fell approximately 30 feet to the ground, according to the Monterey County coroner. Funeral services are being held today.

"Jimmy [Hancock] had not moved the forklift away before Brian fell," said Brinson, a Bolles School graduate, former University of Georgia football player and now a resident of Glenwood Springs, Colo. "I was standing about 40 yards from the forklift, with a clear line of sight. Whatever people were saying [to investigators] about Jimmy moving the forklift is wrong. It's not what happened."

Brinson said the forklift began sliding as Hancock started to retract the arm, then fell over on its side.

Brinson said the standard practice when Blodgett was finished shooting on a hole was to lean over and give Hancock a signal. Hancock would then begin retracting the arm, then lower it. Brinson said it also was standard procedure for Hancock to never move the vehicle until the platform was retracted, then lowered to a safe height. …

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