Boy Struck by Dirt Clod Dies of Head Injury


A 13-year-old Lancaster boy died Wednesday of a head injury he suffered Sunday afternoon while playing with friends who were throwing dirt clods at one another in a vacant lot, police said.

Toby Egstrom was taken to the hospital by his mother following the accident. The boy underwent surgery Sunday night at Lancaster Community Hospital and was transferred early Monday to Antelope Valley Medical Center, where he went into a coma, said Dean Sebree, a Los Angeles County coroner’s investigator.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives were investigating the incident Thursday. But Deputy John Ashley said: “As this case continues, evidence has revealed nothing more than a tragic, regrettable accident.”

Egstrom and seven other youths gathered Sunday in the lot at 15th Street East and Avenue K in Lancaster, where they played a game that involved throwing dirt clods at each other, Ashley said.


Egstrom was hit sometime before 6 p.m. above and behind the right ear, a particularly vulnerable area of the head, Sebree said. The boy got up and continued playing after being knocked down, but he went home shortly afterward and began vomiting, Sebree said.

Sebree did not know the size or consistency of the object that struck the boy, but he said the soil in the high desert community is as hard as adobe and might have been harder because of a recent rain. The injury was a classic hematoma, a swelling that puts pressure on the brain and is fatal if it is not relieved, Sebree said.

Egstrom’s mother took him to Lancaster Community Hospital about 8:15 p.m., and doctors performed an operation to relieve the swelling, officials said. The boy was transferred to Antelope Valley Medical Center at 12:30 a.m. Monday because that facility does more neurosurgical work and has more equipment to treat such injuries, medical center spokeswoman Frankie Rich said.

The boy was declared brain-dead Monday but remained on life-support systems until Wednesday, officials said.