After Blimp Crash and E. Coli Contamination, Snakebitten U.S. Open Witnesses a Spectator Death

US Open 2017
Daniel Redmond

ERIN, Wis.—On the heels of a fiery blimp crash and evidence of E. coli at a hydration station, the U.S. Open lost a spectator on Friday to a sudden death.

Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt informed the United States Golf Association (USGA) that the decedent was a 94-year-old male who appeared to die of natural causes. The death follows a dramatic fire on a commercial blimp high above the course that resulted in a crash and serious injuries for the pilot and evidence of E. coli bacteria found at a 12th-hole hydration station connected to a well.

The unfortunate series of events has not dampened enthusiasm around Erin Hills as the U.S. Open heads into the weekend with the national championship on the line. Fans tried to find some solace in the passing of the elderly man. Kate Hoffmann of nearby Hartland, Wisconsin sympathized: “Very sad news about the man passing away, you just hope he was enjoying his final day watching the sport he loved.”

Emergency personnel performed CPR by the sixth-hole grandstand on the Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, man but he could not be revived. He was taken to an ambulance and soon thereafter pronounced dead. Out of respect for the family, the USGA is not providing additional information at the moment.

Play continued without interruption as Rickie Fowler stumbled on Day Two in his try to win his first major championship and Brooks Koepka, Brian Harman, and Paul Casey surged into a three-way tie for first. While golf is the focus of the fans, some, such as Marcus Stout of Leesburg, Virginia, worried: “Blimp crash, E. coli, fan dying. What will tomorrow bring”?

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