HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Toronto Blue Jays honored the life of a Henrico teen on Sunday, July 3 — one day after she lost her life in an apparent boating accident on the James River.
Seventeen-year-old Julia Budzinski, the oldest daughter of Toronto first base coach Mark Budzinski, was killed after presumably hit by a boat propeller on Saturday, July 2, according to a report provided by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
Before Sunday’s first pitch between the Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, a public address announcer in Toronto asked fans to rise for a moment of silence in Julia’s memory, and said the team “tragically lost a member of our family.”
“We ask that you keep Mark, Monica, Josh and Lily in your thoughts and prayers,” the announcer said.
Mark Budzinski reportedly left Saturday’s game early to be with his family. He attended a vigil Sunday evening outside Glen Allen High School, where Julia played several sports.
After the school’s principal announced the vigil would occur, Julia’s friends and coaches took time to pause and remember her.
“We have a lot of good memories that I’ll remember forever,” one of Julia’s friends said while holding back tears. “It was one of the best feelings in the world to know that she loved you. It’s only been one day, but I miss her so much,” another friend added.
Many people described a free-spirited, talkative and determined teen. Several people expressed disbelief over the loss of someone who, they described, aimed high.
“She really just made my life so much better,” one student said, while her soccer coach asked, “Why this kid? Why? I don’t understand.”
At Julia’s vigil, her mother Monica Budzinski was thankful to those who showed their support amid shared grief, saying, “She loves all you guys.”
Monica described Julia’s experience being on the boat on Saturday to 8News. “It was a very happy, fun last day on earth for her. Sadly, obviously, until the end,” she said, before adding that Julia was “happy, laughing, having a good time and that’s the way I’m going to remember her.”
The Blue Jays also shared a statement where General Manager Ross Atkins offered admiration for Mark Budzinski’s “commitment as a dad and husband first.” The Blue Jays said Budzinski “will be away from the team to be with his family.”