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Woman hurt in storm improves to fair condition

Published: Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 2:38 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 6, 2012 5:39 p.m. CDT

GENEVA – A 23-year-old college student from St. Charles – who was injured Saturday when high winds from a storm blew through Fifth Third Bank Ballpark – was listed in fair condition, a spokesman for Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital said Monday.

Mary Gaffney, a 2007 graduate of St. Charles East High School, was assisting her younger sister in a fundraiser for the band boosters, said Kevin Gaffney, of St. Charles. She came to help as part of an outreach by the Kane County Cougars to have band boosters assist at private parties, he said. Mary Gaffney is a student at Northern Illinois University who was due to graduate in January, her father said.

"My daughter, Mary, suffered a fractured skull," Gaffney  said. "She was helping her younger sister, Abigail, 16, who will be a senior this year. She shielded the younger daughter."

Gaffney said Mary was struck above the right eye to her center forehead by either a pole or a two-by-four and was knocked unconscious. Gaffney said a band booster called 911.

Mary Gaffney was one of two people injured at the Cougars game by wind gusts of up to 60 mph. Gaffney said the other injured person is a current student at St. Charles East, but he would not release her name without her parents' permission.

Mary Gaffney first was taken to Delnor Hospital in Geneva, but then was transferred to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where she is in an intensive care unit, Gaffney said.

Gaffney said his daughter had a three-hour brain surgery Sunday morning and reports from the neurosurgeon are good. A cosmetic surgeon recommended further surgery to repair the scars he said.

"She is a real trouper, [but] it really was unnecessary for the whole thing to happen," Gaffney said. "They were not given any warnings to leave. That is what really upsets me. They knew the storm was coming, and no protection was provided."

Gaffney said as a golfer at Pottawatomie, the park district gets storm radar reports and warns golfers to get off the greens.

Cougars spokesman Shawn Touney said in an email, "two Cougars employees were struck by a picnic table yesterday afternoon in our picnic grounds, as a result of the high winds we experienced yesterday."

As to warnings about weather, Touney's email states, "We are constantly in direct contact with a weather service provider, as we were throughout yesterday morning and afternoon."

Touney confirmed that the organization has reached out to the families of both workers who were injured.

"Our thoughts are with both of them at this time," Touney said in the email.

The private parties were being held before a game scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

According to the Cougars' website, there is no set time to cancel a game "because the weather is different each day and includes different circumstances."

The website also states, "Please keep in mind weather forecasts in the media are often intended to cover an area of well over 100 square miles. We utilize several sources including a weather service to pinpoint our location on a map and give us forecasts specific to our location to make the best decisions possible."

The Cougars' weather info page links to The Weather Channel.

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