Freak Accident Leaves 14-Year-Old Basketball Player Impaled By 4-Inch-Long Splinter From Gym Floorboard

Teen girl impaled by giant splinter during basketball game. Hobbies on a Budget CC BY 2.0

Unlike hockey or football, basketball is generally considered a non-contact sport, with the most common injuries being ankle- or foot-related, where sprains occur 43 percent of the time. The fact that it’s non-contact, though, doesn’t eliminate the chances of a a freak accident. And that’s exactly what happened recently to one 14-year-old girl.

The eighth-grade girl was playing in a basketball tournament on Sunday in Middleton, Wis. when she was bumped while running. In the video above, you can see she fell to the floor, slid a few feet, and remained on the floor. It turns out that the wood underneath her had broken in half and splintered into her abdomen.  

“[The splinter] was three to four inches long, and in some parts, probably a quarter- to a half-inch deep,” tournament organizer Perry Hibner told WGN.

Emergency crews were immediately called to the scene and the gym was emptied. When medics arrived, they said the girl wasn’t even bleeding — probably because it was still in her — and that the splinter had missed all of her vital organs. The girl went to a hospital where doctors removed the splinter, and she then stayed overnight. She’s reportedly been cleared to return to the court in the near future.

While it might be expected that wood would splinter after years of wear and tear, Hibner said the floor was only 15 years old — average life expectancy is around 50 years. They last this long due to the type of wood they’re made with, usually hard maple, a dense, splinter-resistant wood. While it’s unclear what this particular court was made of, one thing is clear: it broke at a bad time.

"It was a complete fluke," Hibner said. "I just think sometimes strange things happen and there's no explanation."

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