Girl playing basketball impaled by Middleton fieldhouse court

Tournament head calls accident 'complete fluke,' expects no legal action against school

Players get injured during play all of the time. After thousands of games coaching, officiating and playing, Perry Hibner knows that as well as anyone.

But he’s never seen an injury like the one that happened Sunday afternoon, and he doesn’t think he will again.

“I just think sometimes strange things happen, and there’s no explanation for the phenomena,” Hibner said.

Surveillance video obtained by News 3 from the Middleton-Cross Plains School District shows the 14-year-old Wisconsin Heights player running under the basket, falling and sliding on the floor. She comes to a halt and even bounces back before telling the referee that she couldn’t get up.

“And the official said, ‘What do you mean? Are you hurt?'” Hibner said. “And she said, ‘There’s a piece of wood stuck to me.'”

Hibner said that piece of wood broke in the middle, causing the splinters to push into the girl’s stomach region.

“It was 3 to 4 inches long and in some parts, maybe a quarter to a half inch deep,” Hibner said, describing the floorboard.

Around 2:30 p.m., minutes after the accident, emergency crews responded to the scene. Hibner asked everyone else to leave the gym as the girl was put on a stretcher and pushed out of the gym. The entire incident was resolved within a half hour. There were 34 teams present at the tournament Sunday, all middle school-age girls.

Hibner said surprisingly, there was no blood. The young player spent the night at American Family Children’s Hospital, and according to Hibner, there were no injuries to her internal organs.

“They did some exploratory surgery to see if there were any perforations internally and there weren’t,” Hibner said.

The broken board is temporarily glued and taped up, marked by a couple of garbage cans. It should be permanently fixed sometime this week.

While Sunday’s games were finished on other courts, Hibner said activities have resumed on the floor.

“Kind of like a strike of lightning where you just don’t think those things are going to happen. It was a complete fluke,” Hibner said.

Hibner said the floor of the fieldhouse was installed just 15 years ago, making it a relatively new court. He’s confident the rest of the court can hold up and that this situation was a freak accident.

Hibner doesn’t expect any legal action against the school district and has been in contact with the girl’s parents as she recovers. He expects she’ll be back to playing this week.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to this one,” Hibner said.