BOONVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Four years after an ATV accident claimed the life of a Warrick County girl, family and friends remember the 11-year-old girl and her love of the ball field. Kate Bruggenschmidt passed away in 2015 after an ATV accident between her softball games. Now, she’s being honored with a softball field in Boonville.
“I Charles R. Wyatt, Mayor of Boonville, hereby proclaim this day Saturday October 5th 2019, as “Play for Kate Day,” said Mayor Charles Wyatt.
“We’re also raising money to build a”Buddy Ball Field” for special needs kids in Newburgh, Indiana here in Warrick County. Kate was very much about being all inclusive and including others. We have lots of pictures of her helping special needs kids so we really feel like that’s something she would want us to do,” said Kate’s mother, Ashlee Bruggenschmidt.
Kate’s teammates say she was the life of the party and always knew how to lift the spirits of those around her.
“Kate was my best friend. She treated me like I was her little sister. She always picked me up when I was down, even if she was mad or sad, she’d always still have a smile on her face. It didn’t matter what she did,” said Ashton Pryor, Kate’s former teammate.
Each year since she passed, a softball tournament has been held in Kate’s memory to raise awareness about ATV safety.
“Whenever you have 85 teams if you’re talking 10-12 kids on each team and all the parents and their grandparents that come in, you’re able to reach a lot of people. It’s a huge educational initiative and the community is the driving force behind it,” said Ashlee Bruggenschmidt.
One of the biggest educators is Safety Sam, the travelling robot that educates kids on ATV safety.
“Our primary focus on this is elementary aged children so we hit a lot of elementary schools throughout Indiana, not just here in Southwestern Indiana but we actually have three Safety Sam’s throughout the state,” said Indiana Conservation Officer Joe Haywood.
In 2017, the “Play for Kate” law was signed into effect which requires anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding an ATV. Officer Haywood says since the law has been in effect only one juvenile was reported.
(This story was originally published on October 5, 2019)