Umpire dies after being struck by foul ball during charity softball game

(Courtesy: Vicki Rock Payne)

ONEIDA, TN (WATE) – A family is grieving after an East Tennessee mother died in a freak accident. Jami Huling, 39, was hit by a foul ball during a charity softball game last weekend in Rockwood.

Huling’s family says it feels like their worst nightmare come true.

“It hasn’t really sunk in that I’ll never talk to her again or have her fuss at me or tease me. I think we’re all still in shock,” said Vicki Rock Payne, Huling’s mother.

Huling was a mother of two, a school teacher and coach. She was umpiring a charity softball game when a foul ball hit the front of her mask.

“It dazed her. She had a terribly bad headache that night,” said Payne.

Her mother says the next day Huling felt fine and worked another game, but on Monday morning things got bad again.

“She started having trouble walking, talking and she was holding her head in pain, talking and screaming that she was in pain. That’s not like her,” she said.

Two days later she was dead. Her loved ones say it doesn’t make sense.

“Jami was one of the most alive people,” said Payne.

Outside the ballpark, she worked at the Boys and Girls Club as a basketball referee. Club director Justin Sharpe says everyone is devastated because she really loved those kids.

“It was more than really just being a paid ref. She was really in it for the right reasons to teach these kids something out here and make a positive impact in their life,” said Sharpe.

Huling’s mother says the family is still waiting on official autopsy results for the official cause of death. They’re planning to have her funeral Thursday. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Oneida High School Performing Arts Center. The service will follow.

Grave site services and burial will be Friday. The procession begins at 8:30 a.m. from Oneida Four Oaks with the services at 9:30 at Hazel Valley Cemetery.

Donations for the family can be made to an account set up under “Jami Payne Huling” at 1st National bank, 250 National Drive, in Helenwood.

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