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Julia Budzinski, daughter of Blue Jays first-base coach, died in tubing accident

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Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr., right, pretends to coach with first base coach Mark Budzinski in the sixth inning of their American League MLB baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Toronto on September 28, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill

TORONTO — Julia Budzinski, the 17-year-old daughter of first-base coach Mark (Bud) Budzinski, died in a tubing accident in Virginia on the weekend.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources spokesperson Paige Pearson said in a statement that two girls fell off a tube being pulled behind a boat on the James River on Saturday.

As the boat operator returned to get them out of the water, the boat hit a wave causing it to be pushed on top of a 17-year-old victim, striking her with the propeller.

"It was a very happy, fun last day on earth for her," Budzinski's mother Monica, who says she was with her daughter at the boat, said at a vigil at Julia's Virginia high school Sunday night. "Sadly obviously … but it was happy, laughing, having a good time, and that's the way I'm going to remember her, that's the way everybody needs to remember her. She loved life, she loved being outside, sports, everything.

"She'll live on through all you guys."

Pearson said foul play is not suspected. Life-jackets were worn and alcohol was not a factor.

Mark Budzinski left the Blue Jays in the third inning of the second game of the team's doubleheader against the Rays on Saturday after learning of his daughter's death.

The Blue Jays issued a statement, saying that Budzinski would take some time away from the team to grieve with his family.

There was a moment of silence for Julia before Sunday's series finale.

"My heart breaks for Bud," Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said after Sunday's game. "There's good men and great men. He's a great man. He's a special kind of person. His family is great. The only thing I can share about what happened is that he left a note for the team. He did this while going through a tragedy, and that tells you everything about him."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022.

The Canadian Press