Javelin Thrower Roggy Falls From Truck, Dies

Times Staff Writer

Javelin thrower Bob Roggy, who was No. 1 in the world in 1982, died early Sunday morning after being thrown from the back of a pick up truck, Houston police said.

Roggy, 29, was pronounced dead at Hermann Hospital at 6:10 a.m. An autopsy was performed Sunday afternoon by the Harris County medical examiner, but the cause of death was not determined. Results of the autopsy will not be known for 7 to 10 days.

Roggy, 6 feet 4 inches and 245 pounds, was in Houston as a competitor in the U.S. Olympic Festival, where he placed fifth in the javelin Saturday night.

According to Eric Miller, a University of Houston spokesman, the accident occurred at the main entrance to the campus. Police received an emergency call at 5:01 a.m.

The police report called the incident "a tragic accident."

"Mr. Roggy fell out of the back of the truck bed and hit his head," the report said. "He was about to stand up as the driver was trying to turn left."

The university police had completed their investigation Sunday afternoon, and no criminal charges were filed, Miller said. The driver of the truck, Kevin Edwards of Galveston, Tex., was tested and found not to be intoxicated, Miller said.

Others in the truck were Mike Collins, of Houston, who was in the cab; John Tullo, of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Ken Flax, of Eugene, Ore., who were in the back of the truck with Roggy. Collins is a former University of Houston javelin thrower, and Edwards was also on the Houston track team. Both graduated in 1984.

Tullo, a javelin thrower, was third in the competition Saturday night. Flax won the hammer throw Friday and is the former American record-holder in the event.

On Sunday, fans and officials observed a moment of silence in Roggy's memory. Flax watched Sunday night's shotput competition but would not comment on the accident.

Miller said Houston Fire Department paramedics arrived on the scene within five to seven minutes. Dr. John Lombardo, the festival's head physician, said at a press conference that "at the scene of the accident he was breathing when they turned him over. He took a few breaths and then he died.

"When they brought him to the hospital he had no heartbeat, he was not breathing. They tried resuscitation and got no response. There were no visible injuries. There was no visible evidence of a head injury."

Brian Roger, the hospital administrator, said Roggy was admitted at 5:59 and was pronounced dead at 6:10. In keeping with Texas law, any death that occurs within 24 hours of admission to a state institution must be investigated.

Lombardo listed a number of possible causes of death, including a broken neck. He said the doctors at the hospital at first suspected cardiac tamponnade--a filling of the heart sac with fluid--and opened Roggy's chest. Lombardo said they found no evidence of the condition.

Roggy, who was planning to return home Friday to celebrate his 30th birthday with his family, is from Holmdel, N.J. He was the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. champion in 1978, the year he graduated from Southern Illinois University.

Roggy had been training in Santa Barbara but recently moved to Redondo Beach.

Roggy led the field after the preliminaries at the 1984 Olympic trials but suffered a groin injury in the finals and finished seventh. He was second at the national championships in July and eighth in the Goodwill Games last month.

Roggy has been ranked in the top 10 in the United States every year since 1977. He was No. 1 in the world in 1982, with a throw of 314 feet 4 inches, which was also an American record.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World