Authorities investigate death of River fan who fell from stand

The judiciary has ruled out initial reports that the man jumped and is investigating it as an accident

River Plate turns 122 today. Credit: River Plate.

The death of River Plate fan Pablo Serrano last Saturday after falling from one of the stands at River’s Monumental stadium during a match between the home team and Defensa y Justicia is being investigated by a Buenos Aires city prosecutor. A joint press release on Saturday said the man had “jumped”, but the judiciary has ruled that out and is investigating it as an accident. 

The incident occurred at the 14 minute mark of the first half. Standing on the edge of one of the highest stands of the stadium known as tribuna Sívori alta, Serrano fell more than 50 feet to an open space between two lower stands. The seriousness of the fall was not known at first, and the match continued until it was determined the man had died, which led to the game’s suspension. 

According to a preliminary autopsy report, Serrano died instantly due to multiple injuries and a skull fracture. The full autopsy and toxicology reports are still pending.   

The prosecutor investigating the case is Celsa Ramírez of Buenos Aires City’s Special Prosecutors Office in charge of Mass Events. She ordered the stand Serrano fell from to be closed off so the police could investigate, and requested all video footage of the event. 

Ramírez initially decided the stand should be closed for 24 hours, but extended the closure until Tuesday pending further reports and a contingency plan to be presented by River Plate on how to prevent further such incidents. 

According to sources from River and the prosecutor’s office, the club presented this plan and the closure should be lifted by Tuesday afternoon. The stadium is expected to be fully operational for River’s Wednesday Copa de Libertadores match against Brazilian team Fluminense. 

Following the game, a press statement released by River Plate authorities and the BA Football Security Committee, which depends on the Justice and Security Ministry and is in charge of crime prevention and violence monitoring in football stadiums, said that Serrano had “jumped.” 

Sources close to River told the Herald this first determination came because personnel in the camera room determined that Serrano’s movements before the fall indicated premeditation on his part. 

“They said it looked like he walked back to try and get a running start in order to jump. Before this, they mentioned it appeared as if he was looking down to where he might fall, as if trying to make sure he wouldn’t land on anyone. Based on this, club and city authorities decided to release a press statement saying he had jumped, and there were no signs of violence involved in the incident,” the source said. 

Interviewed by the news show Telefé Noticias on Monday night, Adrián Serrano, Pablo ‘s brother, called the death “an accident”. “He was having trouble with his hands, he didn’t have much strength. He was surely trying to grab a hold of a railing when he lost his balance and couldn’t hold on. That’s our theory,” said Serrano, who reiterated that his brother never intended to commit suicide. “We want to make that very clear.”

Sources from the prosecutor’s office told the Herald that suicide was no longer being investigated as a cause of death. “That’s been ruled out, he slipped and fell,” they said, stating that further investigation is required before reaching an official cause of death. 


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