Town in mourning after the loss of high school baseball player

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 10:08 PM EDT
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BATH, Mich. (WILX) - A mid-Michigan town is mourning the shocking loss of a high school baseball player. Cooper Gardner of Bath Township died Sunday morning from a traumatic brain injury. Monday, the community came together to remember their friend.

Friends, family and teammates gathered at the Bath High School baseball field to honor #17, Cooper Gardner. Cooper suffered a traumatic head injury playing baseball on April 21. That injury sent him to the ICU for six days. After making progress he was sent home.

However, Cooper ended up passing Sunday morning.

Coach Scott Peru said, “It’s pretty heartbreaking. He’s a heck of a kid. He meant a lot to everyone in the school.”

Jaden Perez has been friends with Cooper since they were little.

“He was always smiling. He might have been the shortest kid on the team, but he had the biggest heart and love for the game out there,” Jaden said. “For him to be gone now is difficult. He’s like the little brother I never had.”

Cooper’s coach said it was a relief to hear his voice after the accident. Then, hearing the news over the weekend came as a huge shock.

Peru said, “I actually had called Cooper’s dad 8, 8:30 Saturday night. He put me on speaker phone and I actually talked to Coop and his mom. He was doing great. He told me, ‘don’t worry coach I’ll be back.’”

Kaci Hart-Suff is a family friend.

“It certainly was a shock to everybody,” Hart-Suff said. “It certainly was not expected at all. I know the family should be receiving some answers that they’re looking for.”

Friends of the Gardner family are rallying the community to help financially.

Hart-Suff said, “I think our ultimate goal would be $20,000, that way it’s comfortable and would pay for funeral and medical expenses that they have.”

People who wish to donate to Cooper’s medical and funeral expenses can do so at the family’s GoFundMe page.

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