(NEWSER) – An 18-year-old track-and-field star impaled his face on his own javelin Friday in what his coach calls a “freak accident,” BuzzFeed reports. According to KATU, Parker Kennedy was participating in a USA Track and Field event in Portland, Ore. “He was warming up and had just thrown a javelin and was walking out to retrieve it,” coach Donnie Herneisen tells BuzzFeed. “It was kind of sticking up at a 45-degree angle, and he literally tripped and fell.” The javelin entered Kennedy’s right eye socket. Fortunately, it traveled down toward his mouth instead of up toward his brain.
A staff member removed the javelin from Kennedy’s head, and he was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition, KGW reports. By Saturday, he was stable. Kennedy will likely need reconstructive surgery yet will probably—yet improbably—retain sight in his right eye. “His momma said the damage is not critical, but it’s up in the air,” Herneisen tells KATU. Kennedy graduated from Hood River Valley High School this year after winning the state javelin championship. He holds multiple Oregon state records and had recently signed with the University of Washington’s track and field team.