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Fatal Atlanta stadium fall was accidental, police say

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By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A fatal fall Monday night of a 29-year-old baseball fan from an upper deck of the Atlanta Braves Turner Field stadium was an accident, police said Tuesday.

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The Fulton County Medical Examiner's office identified the man as Ronald Homer, 29, of Conyers, a suburb of Atlanta.

"At this time there is no indication of foul play, and the fall appears accidental," Atlanta police said in a statement Tuesday morning.

Results are not available yet on a test to determine if Homer had been drinking, Mary Beth Hauptle, a medical examiner investigator, told Reuters Tuesday.

Police responded to the call at about 8:55 p.m. EDT (0055 GMT) on Monday during a rain delay in the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Homer fell about 65 feet from an upper level platform at the stadium to a secured parking lot, police said. He was taken to a local hospital where he later died.

Homer's mother, Connie Homer, told WXIA television station in Atlanta that her son was six feet, six inches tall and may have lost his balance peering into the parking lot on the ground.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he was leaning over looking at the cars in the players' parking lot," she said.

She told the TV station she doubted her son was intoxicated.

In a statement Monday, the Braves referred all questions to local police, who said they are working to release a report on the fall.

A Braves spokeswoman did not immediately answer an email question or phone call about what changes, if any, might be implemented to prevent future accidents.

In 2008, 25-year-old Justin Hayes fell to his death at Turner Field during the 8th inning of an Atlanta Braves-New York Mets game. Police said alcohol was a factor when Hayes fell about 60 feet as he was trying to slide down the handrails of a club-level stairway at the field.

Major safety changes were implemented at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, after a fan fell to his death from the stands in 2011 while trying to catch a ball thrown by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Shannon Stone fell over the railing and plunged 20 feet, leaving his young son alone in the stands. His death prompted new safety measures such as higher rails, a pre-game announcement, warning signs and security guards.

(Editing by Karen Brooks and Phil Berlowitz)

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