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O.C. Boy Is Killed by 185-Pound Barbell

Relatives find the 12-year-old pinned under the equipment, his air supply cut off.

November 19, 2005|Susana Enriquez | Times Staff Writer

Elijah Brown wanted to be a pro football player, so the 12-year-old would lift weights every so often to bulk up his 5-foot-3, 130-pound body.

On Thursday, after playing catch with his grandfather and uncle, Elijah went into the garage of his Huntington Beach home to lift about 5 p.m. When the men checked on him 10 minutes later, they found Elijah with a 185-pound barbell pinning him to the bench, police said.

The men lifted the weight from the boy and performed CPR until paramedics came, but Elijah died at Huntington Beach Hospital at 5:41 p.m. The barbell had cut off his air supply, the coroner said.

"This wasn't supposed to happen to him," said Thomas Brown, Elijah's father, his eyes welling up with tears as he stood outside a neighbor's house. "He had a really bright future ahead of him."

Brown, who said he allowed Elijah to lift weights periodically, said his son mostly used dumbbells or the 45-pound barbell, without adding weight to it.

The Smith Machine that Elijah used has a mechanism that keeps the bar balanced between two metal poles with a safety latch that can be engaged at different heights.

"He knew how to do it by himself," Brown said, adding that he had stressed the importance of having a spotter in case he couldn't handle the weight. "It was a freak accident."

The father, 32, described Elijah as a fun-loving boy and straight-A student who was active in sports and at church.

He had studied karate since he was 3 and earned his brown belt a couple of months ago, he said.

Elijah had also played football with the Huntington Beach Dolphins, an Orange County junior all-American football team, since the age of 6, Brown said.

"His dream was to go on to play professional football and play for the Denver Broncos," Brown said.

Elijah wore the number 33 on his football jersey, the number of his favorite player, retired Bronco running back Terrell Davis.

"There's no one he wanted to be more like than his father and Terrell Davis," said Dallas Kruse, the family's pastor, who was also Elijah's private running coach.

The seventh-grader at Bethany Christian Academy in Westminster had just received an award Tuesday for excellence in math, his father said.

Elijah also enjoyed fishing, snowboarding and playing his keyboard and drums.

On Friday, family and friends gathered at the Browns' single-story house at the end of a cul-de-sac. They prayed and kept a vigil, Kruse said.

"Elijah was just an amazing child," he said, adding that he hoped the accident would teach other kids to be careful with weights.

Elijah is also survived by his mother, Lisanne, 38, 7-year-old sister and 21-year-old stepsister.

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