Kevin Ogar Snatch Incident – A Freak Accident – not CrossFit related

Kevin Ogar - tragic, freak accident. My prayers are with him and his family for the best possible recovery.

I am posting this because people are asking my opinion on what happened. This is the only video I can find of the event.

Key Points:

  1. It looks like 100kg. This is likely to be well below his max weight.
  2. It looks like his first lift. it doesn't look like he has done a a repetition before this lift.
  3. It looks like he got it up and stood up at least halfway - out of the hole and but at the sticking point (maybe) - it is when the thoracolumbar junction is at its most loaded.
  4. He appears to just drop the bar and goes down.
  5. I have seen many people fail a snatch before but I haven't seen someone just go down under a bar like that.
  6. He is an experienced lifter and knows how to "fail" a lift

My suspicion is that he had a stress fracture in his back (maybe even bilateral (non-congenital) pars defects?) and it gave way as he was standing the lift up.

If he was to fail that lift as I have seen many people do before, he would have squatted back down and dropped it behind him or just throw the bar in front.

So i don't think the bar broke his back, I think he had a pre-existing, possibly undiganosed issue in his back which catastrophically and unpredictably failed as he stood the bar up.

Experienced lifters just don't fail a lift like that.

Other Points:

  • Stress fractures occur in a lot of sports where loading occurs - basketball, cricket, running - you name the sport and I have probably seen it - even swimming!
  • Other possible causes include a burst fracture, a piece of disc material causing the spinal cord injury, or some other unknown reason
  • This wasn't a random weekend comp. This was a comp where you had to qualify - all the competitors knew what they were doing and have been doing CrossFit for some time.
  • Injuries occur in every sport. This was a freak accident. Freak accidents occur in every sport.
  • We can talk about coaching quality in general, we can talk about the pros and cons of CrossFit but the bottom line is that I don't those arguments are in play for this incident.

Additional Points Added on 23.01.2014:

I have been busy teaching on the weekend and in the clinic. I have had a chance to review clearer footage on different software which allows me to zoom in and check a few things. I still hold the above to be true but add the following qualifiers...

  1. I still see something causing Kevin to drop the bar straight down
  2. The bar contacts his upper left thorax/shoulder blade region - this occurs whilst his hips seem to be on the ground
  3. The plates on the bar contacts the 45lbs weight stack behind him - the bar does not appear to bounce back towards the viewer (or Kevin) but  goes sideways and then continues back through the plate stack. This may be because Kevin stops the bar from coming forwards or because the hit to plate stack obliquely. It is also possible that because the bar would have had some deflection away from Kevin, then hit the plate stack, the sum of the vectors may have resulted in a sideways deflection of the barbell and weights.
  4. The bar continues through the plate stack - it appears that Kevin is leaning back on the bar but the angle of the video won't allow a definite conclusion on this.
  5. The end result is actually the same options we had at the start:
    • He got injured during the lift causing him to drop the bar
    • He got injured when the barbell fell on his back
    • He got injured when the barbell hit the plate stack and possibly went back into his back
  6. There are many lessons to learn and conversations to have about many issues...but not right now - just be safe and aware of your surroundings and what you have to do.

That's my 2c worth. It is an all 'round tragedy.

Support Kevin Ogar at

106 Responses

  1. actfraser

    A very good summation of the facts on hand.

    This is well written.

    Congrats. I really enjoy reading your material.

    Thanks Andrew Fraser

    Courtesy of Interceptor Athletics “Changing Your Game”


  2. 6 Further points i make about it NOT being from too much FLEXION in other lifts and 30 rep workouts etc…

    This all assumes my hypothesis is correct and is was a stress fracture that led to shearing (anterolithesis) such that it severed the spinal cord…

    1. Stress fractures occur in EXTENSION, not flexion. So loading the joints whether fast or slow in extension is the problem. Sure, flexion going into extension is a problem too but it isn’t the flexion that is the problem in my theory of this accident.

    2. Movements that i think are the problem are – heavy strict press, push press, push jerk, split jerk and snatch. They all load the thoracolumbar junction in extension.

    3. The thoracolumbar junction has a mortice lock arrangement of the facet joints (Look up Kevin Singer from university of Western Australia – he wrote a paper on it). That means that in extension, the thoracolumbar junction (somewhere between T11-L2) will lock and basically the bone prevents any rotation or movement there. Excessive forces from a chiropractic/osteo/physio manipulation (“cracking” your back) can therefore cause a fracture there.

    4. loaded extension with heavy weights will load that area. if he developed a stress reaction there, then it would be weak or even broken there and the extension at that point would be unrestrained.

    5. Coming up out of the hole and into the sticking point is when the thoracolumbar junction is at its most loaded (at least it is in me and plenty of other people i watch). Unrestrained motion there coupled with perhaps poor motor control or fatigue or some magic dust that happened to have settled on him (who knows why it happened?) caused some shearing which caused the spinal injury.

    6. This is all speculation. He may have had a non-diagnosed benign tumor there for all we know. However, I think it is clear from the video that it wasn’t the barbell landing on him nor was it the fact he didn’t know how to fail – he failed then he dropped the bar.

    1. Blake spooner

      Please elaborate on point 3 above. Perhaps you can help me to understand your comment. In no A&P, nor biomechanics texts have I ever read of the TL junction “lock” nor the reference to injury in manipulations.

      1. Apologies – been very busy running a course this weekend in a city 3+hrs drive away!

        Reference is Singer, K.P. 1989 Thoracolumbar mortice joint: radiological
        and histological observations (Clinical Biomechanics 4:137)

        I have seen clear footage of the incident now. There is something that makes him drop the bar suddenly. The bar lands on his left shoulder/upper thorax and the bar can be seen to bend. It may have been that some broke and the bar combined with him being on the ground created the last bit of force that tragically hurt his spinal cord.

  3. Matt

    There’s a big gaping hole in your analysis: the 7 extremely high intensity, CNS taxing WODS done prior.

    Saying this is completely unrelated to crossfit is disingenuous and irresponsible. It was a perfect storm of bad programming, pre-injuries, high fatigue, and a poorly run event.

    That seems to almost describe most crossfit competition events a tee.

    1. Hi Matt.

      I take your point but sport the world over has fatiguing aspect, high impact and heavy loading. That is why I don’t think it is necessarily CrossFit-only.

      There have been far more paraplegics and quadraplegics made from Rugby and other sports. Accidents happen.

      If it was a perfect storm, then why haven’t there been more spinal cord injuries like this? CrossFit has been around for more than 10 years. From all accounts, the early CrossFit days were much more Wild West than these days with less relatively less attention to technique…these days, there is a far greater emphasis on getting the technique correct and bringing in specialist coaches hence the specialty courses.

      If the event was a perfect storm at the OC Throwndown, then why didn’t more athletes fall to such injuries?

      I still maintain that this accident was of a freakish nature.

      We can discuss whether training load, volume, technique etc etc played a part in possibly contributing to a possible weakening of the spine. But again, we could be speaking of any sport, not just CrossFit. Therefore, it is a freak accident, not CrossFit-related.

      1. I agree with many of your points but I have to agree with Matt here: horrible programming where a heavy 3RM for Snatch is one of the last events after several days of strenuous, fatiguing WODs is down right idiotic. The sports you mention where athletes suffer paralysis are intentionally hitting one another (per your example of rugby). Crossfit competitions are basically hard workouts. Yes, there is an element of risk with all sports and anything can happen. However, performing Oly lifts in a fatigued state is like drunk driving. Sure, driving is already dangerous but if you drink you just elevated the risks. Same goes for WODs where you’re told to perform a very complex, intensive, powerful, focused, and dangerous movement that requires complete concentration and peaked energy levels to execute the movement perfectly. Any Oly lifter/coach will vouch for this.

        1. “However, performing Oly lifts in a fatigued state is like drunk driving. ” This is an excellent way of describing this increased risk in the face of the “Oly is risky” argument. Excellent work.

          1. Tim

            Anthony, I truly appreciate your analysis. Joshua and Lynn, to compare this to freak accident to drunken driving is completely idiotic. Under that logic anything under a bit of stress or fatigue is tantamount to committing a crime that kills thousands of people a year. You should be ashamed for yourselves for trying to sensationalize this accident. I was a volunteer at this event and Kevin was enthusiastic about this specific WOD immediately before going into it. The OCT was very well run, and programming was spot on for these phenomenal athletes.

    2. Marc

      Matt. This is an exceptional point. As a quallfied physio, strength and conditioning coach and with an extensive background in risk management, I am very surprised that no consideration was given to the preceeding analysis (include preloading / prefatiguing and fatigue from the WODS).

      FINALLY – The justification that it is not Cross-Fit related are just as poor as those who state it is Cross-Fit related, there is no evidence to back either case UNTIL a throrough causal analysis is done. As a physio I treat 2-3 Cross-Fit injuries per week. In saying that I treat around the same number of jogging / running injuries.

      1. Marc, my point is that it isn’t because of “CrossFit” that a freak accident happened. There are many factors that would be involved. My point is that it is likely to be training related. I think something was already there. He happens to CrossFit. Maybe it was his training that contributed – I don’t know. But I know plenty of people who train in similar ways who don’t do CrossFit.

        It is obviously CrossFit related because it happened at an event where CrossFitters competed in…but you don’t need to be involved with CrossFit to compete…just qualify.

        The purpose of this blog post was to merely postulate that it may have been something other than the bar hitting the plates and breaking his spine as was suggested…I simply don’t think the plates had anything to do with that.

  4. Bobby

    I want to know who wrote the article, what their credentials are, if they have an education in exercise science and physiology and THEN you can try and explain that this isn’t CrossFit related and not a result of the programming.

    1. Hi Bobby. I have a bachelors and masters degree in physical therapy and specialization training. Did exercise physiology as part of Uni degree.

      My point is that this occurs all over the world in all sorts of sports. Kevin Ogar will have his own programming sorted and if someone else programmed for him, he is experienced enough to know when to stop. We have to remember that the OC Throwdown was an event where you had to qualify and only the best 30 (?) were chosen. These athletes are not newbies. Most CrossFit athletes came from some other sport background before they started CrossFit.

      I hope to see the live feed footage eventually and would love to see any other angles that people have of the incident, particularly from the side.

      Thanks for your comment!

      1. Antony,
        As a fellow physical therapist, I agree and disagree with some of your assessment. I do believe that the WODs leading up to this in fact tax the central nervous system, creating mental and physical fatigue that is evident in changes in form. Kevin is an experienced lifter and Crossfitter, and had been under this duress multiple times prior to this event. I submit that he may have had a pre-existing injury, perhaps a pars defect, or mobility issues. That being said, just Tuesday this week, I caught a snatch too far back over my head. I had 120lbs on the bar, a weight I typically manage easily. I was at the beginning of my training for the day and not fatigued. I did not jump forward quick enough, and the bar landed on my back, around T10-T12, and continued to roll on my back to the ground. That is a perfectly plausible mechanism of injury, as well as preexisting conditions you discuss.

        Perhaps we as a community should come together to support Kevin and his ever-increasing medical expenses and mental anguish, rather than banter back and forth as to the root cause of his misfortune.

        1. Hi Meghan – thanks for that. I agree. In the full video that I have seen, there is a guy right next to Kevin that failed a lift just previously to his first attempt at his first lift. The guy next to him bailed much more conventionally. Something makes him drop his arms immediately…it is very clear that he does this but it is unclear what that something is. It is also clear that he hits the ground and the bar contacts him in the upper back/scapula region on the left side and the bar does bend…so whilst it is possible that the bar contacts that low, I don’t think so based on what I have seen…but the compressive force of the impact could have dome something. Again, I wrote this blog post because I do not think the plates behind him had anything to do with his accident…it is just a sad and tragic accident

          1. So, could of all things come to a point by luck? He comes out of the squat and something “pops” in the back. As the bar drops, it hits the weights, which hits his back at the same point and “finishes” off the break/pop? Is it possible? Yes. Plausible: no. However…………

          2. Hi Theo,

            I think it is truly an unlucky/unfortunate incident.

            I also don’t think the bar hits the weights behind and then hits Kevin again…it appears to drop straight down after he lets go and lands on his left upper back or shoulder blade, which may or may not cause more injury.

    2. Mindy

      I would like to see you take 2 seconds to click on the “About Antony Lo” bar placed directly above the article, in plain view, before you infer that the author has no authority on the subject matter. Don’t be lazy.

      1. joe

        Looks like his info was put under a different tab. Look under Anthony Lo details. I know he is more educated than me, and probably you.

  5. JP

    No body miss a lift by squatting it down and throwing it in the front. He swung the bar, it looped around him, to save it he tried to get up fast. The bar looked like it kept its momentum backward and he tried to save it rather than ”throw” the bar back.

  6. Matt

    Your assumptions are wrong as you were not there and are watching an imcomwye video. Kevin is very clearly off balance due to the poor choice to place the bumpers directly behind the platform. So Kev drops to his butt and swings the bar behind him. I have bailed in such a manner myself, however, the barbell very clearly strikes the bumpers stacked behind the platform and then strike Kevin and this is where you see Kevin react as if having been shot. Had those bumpers not been there the injury would not be what it is.

    1. Hi Matt. You are right. I wasn’t there not have I seen the full unedited video. I hope to see the video soon. I can’t change not being there.

      He looks to drop that bar like his arms gave way. The incident looks like it started to fall before letting go of the bar.

      The plates issue – hard to say for me. I will neither defend nor support the competition organizers. But what I will say is that it looks like a massive piece of real estate to choose where to stand. What if he chose to face the other way? I don’t know…

    2. First, in this particular video, Kevin shows zero hint of being off balance. His feet are flat when he receives the bar; his arms are locked and stable. He receives the bar at approx 90 degrees, descends a tad, and then begins a flat-footed push out of this position. He does so with relative ease. But then something happens, as if something in his structure (spine?) gives way. He does NOT try to push the bar back behind him; he simply and suddenly releases it. In fact, he releases his grip, and rapidly pulls his hands straight down with the bar directly over his center of gravity. You’ll notice something else: His feet, which appear flat, both instantly come up a 1/2 inch or so, coincident with the release and rapid pull down of his hands/arms. Now, what appears to be simultaneous with the bar striking Kevin’s back, is his butt hitting the ground. My opinion here is that damage had already been done, but this simultaneous striking of the bar to the back with the butt to ground, added “insult to injury.” And perhaps exacerbated an already serious injury. It is soon after that Kevin gets the “got shot” look of pain on his face. The video does not show the stacked plates behind Kevin as playing any factor in the injury.

      1. Finch

        Looking closely at the recording, he pretty clearly is not injured (severely) until after he’s on the ground. He goes from looking fine to looking like he’s been shot in a frame. Is it possible he was injured impacting the ground? It looks like the bar hits him right before he winces in pain, and that’s the most obvious source of enough force focused on a single point to cause this injury, but I suppose it’s conceivable it was the ground.

        As to the ditch looking funny, it would not surprise me if he was aware there was a pile of junk right behind his feet, so he could not comfortably ditch forward, and may have had some fear that in ditching backward he would hit the pile, so he tried to ditch backward but not too far. It’s also possible he was tired and that affected the ditch. It’s not obvious you’ll ever get a clear answer on this.


      What? No.
      Kevin wasn’t injured by the barbell hitting him. No.

      Put everything aside and just simply watch the video. Something catastrophic occurs when he is coming out of the squat. It happens precisely before he tips his head forward and then falls back. At this point, he is injured. he nonsense about the plates and the barbell hitting him is secondary distractions at best. A pair of eyes is required for drawing this conclusion.

      1. Finch

        Apparently it was the bar hitting him in the back:

        “But on Sunday, as Ogar lifted hundreds of pounds of weights first to his waist, and then up over his head, he bailed on the lift, letting the bar bounce to the floor behind him. There, it bounced against another set of weights, came up, and hit Ogar in the back, critically injuring his spine.

        ‘When impact was made, he jumped almost like someone shot him,’ Ogar’s friend, boss and training-partner Matt Hathcock told ABC News.”
        “There was no medical staff or doctor on site during the competition, in which amateur athletes lift hundreds of pounds, swing from ropes, jump on boxes, flip tires and perform other intense exercises as quickly as they can.

        Hathcock said that was an anomaly; most competitions have some medical assistance available. “

        1. Hmm, I have seen clear video of the live feed of the lift. It appears that something happens, he drops the barbell by dropping his hands. he hits the floor and the barbell hits him on the left upper back/shoulder region, the bar goes back and continues to go backwards…it doesn’t look like it came back forwards at him.

          I believe this is easily demonstrated by putting a barbell with 100kg on it, deadlifting it, then throwing it at a stack of plates the same as in the video…I think you will see that it can’t really “bounce” back easily. The video that I saw also demonstrates this.

  7. terry

    if it was due to previous fracture the doctors should see evidence with imaging or the surgery they did. We may know in the future if a lawsuit occurs. My understanding was the event carried no insurance.

    1. brett

      According to the OCT website “procured the proper liability insurance which is mandatory for this type of event. We had all necessary state, county and engineering licenses in place. The OCT also had a full medical team on-site, all weekend. Within seconds of the injury there was a medical team by Kevin’s side and the paramedics arrived within minutes.” Just FYI.

    2. Sometimes it is hard to tell what is a current/new fracture and what is old. We don’t even know if it is a fracture do we? It might have been a disc (although unlikely in my mind…)

    3. Tim

      Terry, you clearly not do any sort of business in the state of California. I assure you that at a minimum this event carried a $5,000,000 insurance policy. A single person would not have been allowed to step foot on the Orange County Fairgrounds if it did not.

  8. Alex

    Well in early CF days BW Snatch was considered elite. Today 225 lb it is below average weight for any regional competitor. I think we will see more and more injuries like that happening in the future as margins for error getting smaller together with ridiculous programming of some competition.

    1. I agree with the weights Alex. If I were to get picky about the contributing factors, then I would say the way you train is more important than the comp workouts.

      I believe it was his very first lift/pull. He may have been tired but we would have warmed up with that weight or more out the back (you would assume).

  9. Anonymous

    The x-rays showed a clean sever of t11-12. I had surgery on my back for such a fracture, and I can tell you that there’s no chance his spinal column “gave way” from standing up under load (it was 235#, btw). It looks as though he may have gotten light-headed on the way up, then dropped the bar and it bounced off the plates sitting behind him, sending the bar directly into that region of the back. His entire body tensing up for a split second after the bar hits him is indicative of nerve trauma.


      This is self-confirmation bias.

      The story will make itself clear. Kevin’s catastrophic injury occurred at the start of getting out of the hole. It occurred due to some pre-existing weakness or issue.

      We can debate this for eons. Instead, check back here after Kevin himself explains. Then tell me how certain you are.

  10. Tom

    I was at the event, watched the lift live, and the bar landing on him was the primary factor. I watched that lift, as well as previous snatches, and everyone’s legs were jello from the triple Fran. if you pause the video at 3 seconds in you see the bar make contact at an odd angle with his mid/upper back , while he is seated and the bar is nowhere near contacting the plates behind him. The immediate reaction (which thankfully was censored in the vid) was indicative of the bar contact causing the injury.

    1. Tom, I appreciate to were there live. I would prefer to watch the video and hope to have that to see soon.

      It is like at the football. The video will show the sequence of events. It does look like the bar contacts him high but he has already dropped the bar in a strange way already.

      Who knows? Maybe Kevin doesn’t even know. Maybe the moment is clearly in his mind.

    2. I posted the video. I was also watching live. Unfortunately I was unable to get a better quality video than what I posted. But I completely agree with Tom. The bar definitely landed on his back and there was absolutely NO contact with the bar a second time as a result of the weights behind him. People are just saying the weights behind him had something to do with it because they want to blame other people for the accident, and the placement of weights is a convenient way to place blame on others. I’m not saying you are doing that though

      1. Finch

        “People are just saying the weights behind him had something to do with it because they want to blame other people for the accident, and the placement of weights is a convenient way to place blame on others.”

        This is offensive and irresponsible. Surely the most important thing is to prevent life-changing injury going forward? Antony may very well be right, although it sure doesn’t look like it in the video, but that isn’t actually important here. The event setup was unsafe, and training and procedures could and should have prevented that. It’s an opportunity for introspection.

  11. Finch

    While your explanation is conceivable, it sure doesn’t look like that’s what occurred. It looks like the bar bounced off the plate stacks and hit him in the back. X-rays will probably show for sure, and I assume that will come out (though maybe not publicly) in the lawsuits. Which are probably inevitable regardless of the victim’s intentions, because the various insurers will sue one-another.

    In any event, regardless of what actually happened in the video, it looks like negligence in the setup of the contest. The small platform, the lift commencing on the edge of the platform, the plates stacked right next to the platform, the platform appearing to be just two stall mats laid on the ground which could slide, and the lack of EMTs, well, that’s just stuff that can’t be waived away. You see this sort of thing in _many_ pictures of Crossfit competitions, which suggests that HQ is vulnerable. Presumably the guys running this had certifications. HQ would surely be named as a deep pocket.

    The internet is abuzz with talk of the programming as a cause, but I think that’s misplaced. It might be a contributing factor, but he can hardly be said to have been unaware of what sort of thing would be expected. Lots of sports are dangerous.

    1. Thanks Finch. I still think something happened before the bar got to the plates.

      CFHQ didn’t seem to be involved with the event but who knows what will happen?

      In the end, it is a tragedy. My mission, as stated all throughout this blog, is for people to reduce risk through training properly. I don’t think risk is ever taken away, just reduced. Please be safe out there no matter what you do.

      1. Finch

        > CFHQ didn’t seem to be involved with the event but who knows what will happen?

        It occurred at an affiliate and was run by people with certifications, right? Also, it’s not like there’d be any problem establishing that HQ does not try to keep lifters spaced out away from obstacles or each other like the IWA.

        I expect the bulk of this to rain down on the guys running that particular box, but HQ will likely have to write some checks as well. And look for procedural changes going forward. I can imagine directives to squat in a rack; have full-size platforms; ditch the rings, handstand pushups, and anything that might dump you on your head. Things like that.

        It’s a tragedy, people get hurt doing all sorts of things, and in particular it doesn’t look like like fatigue had much to do with it. But it’s also an opportunity for learning. How many people lift in their garage next to all kinds of junk they could trip over? I’ve had stall mats slip under me at home – it’s what prompted me to build a platform.

  12. Leo

    I really dont think this is the case. It just doesn’t make any sense at all. The bar hits him the second his butt is on the ground.. allowing NO room for wiggle. It then hits the plates and come back, but not without enough force to cause a problem.

    I realize you were there and watching, but I believe you’re incorrect in this assessment.

    1. Hi Leo. I only have an opinion like you do and I appreciate that you have disagreed with me politely 🙂

      I honestly think something happened before he dropped the bar and it caused him to drop the bar. That’s how I saw it. What happened afterwards is still unknown to me. I was not there 🙂

      Thanks again. I appreciate your opinion and the fact that you could be right too 🙂

  13. Ashley

    I agree that the bumpers are placed in a horrible position, but it does appear that an initial injury occured during the lift itself…the ricochet off the bumpers made it worse. However, the only person that would know would be Kevin, and who knows if he will be able to recall it. I only wish him the absolute best…whatever did happen, it ended in the worst possible scenario.

      1. Anonymous

        the majority of the women competitors in the event faced the other way (faced the plates; back to crowd)…it is very interesting because when the athletes come out and take their place and the first athlete faces a certain way…the other athletes tend to face that way as well…(basically they tend to follow suit of however the very first athlete stands)..i was there and noticed this.

  14. Terry you have a poor understanding of this matter and clearly are stating a opinion that lacks research. 1. The OC Fairgrounds will not allow any event to proceed on its property without proof of insurance. 2. The Insurance policy carried for the OC Throwdown meets all legal standards for the City of Costa Mesa and the State of California.

    Matt if this injury was caused from poor programming and a poorly ran event then as Anthony states; WHY WERE THERE NOT MORE ATHLETES WITH THE SAME INJURY? Or any other athlete with the same or similar injury?

    It is a shame that people like yourselves take the time to spread false rumors about such a tragic incident. Terry and Matt have you made a donation to any of the fundraising efforts going on for Ogar? Your time would be better spent helping this man then posting wild speculations that lack proof.

    Anthony I enjoyed your article, thanks for writing it. Matt and Terry I was at the OC Throwdown and my statements are facts that guesses. Find a better way to spend your time.

    1. Thanks Tony for your comments and the additional information which is very helpful.

      At the same time, I do respect that Matt and Ashley have the right to believe what they do in the absence of information.

      I do try to couch my words to say I am speculating. I do want to keep a civil tone around here.

      It is an emotional issue for all involved (athlete, fellow athletes, CrossFit lovers and CrossFit dislikers, etc).

      Please support Kevin Ogar’s recovery in any way you can

    2. Sense

      “Matt if this injury was caused from poor programming and a poorly ran event then as Anthony states; WHY WERE THERE NOT MORE ATHLETES WITH THE SAME INJURY? Or any other athlete with the same or similar injury?”

      100 people step on a piece of ice. Out of those 100, only one slips. The ice is still the causing factor of the fall.

  15. srfndoc

    I’m on your side with the belief there was an ‘event’ prior to him dropping the bar. Possibly a bilateral pedicle defect that gave way under axial load. For an experienced CF trainer who knows how to bail out of a failed lift, that did not look like a normal dump.

  16. Anonymous

    Hi Antony,

    I’m a trainer myself and I like the detailed article. But to say it’s not crossfit related is pretty crazy? Of course it was. I’m not trolling, I write my own blog which has its fair share of negative comments I’m just confused by that statement

    1. Hi – my point is that it seems like an accident that could have happened at any time anywhere. I don’t think (just my opinion) it was due to the location of the plates. Contributing factors include training load and technique, fatigue etc etc but that occurs in all competitions.

      If it had happened on the TV show The Search For Hurt or Australia’s Fittest Man which both include fatiguing workouts and events, would you say that the TV show was responsible for a broken ankle because someone fell over during a 100m sprint? There are many reasons why things happen.

      It is CrossFit related only that CrossFitters were involved. It wasn’t a CrossFit HQ organised event. You had to qualify through a series of stages and I am sure anyone who could qualify could do so, even non-crossfitters.

      The training programs are not necessarily “CrossFit” training either…often they are based on strength and conditioning / exercise physiology principles that have been around since before CrossFit…and a lot of CrossFitters have Olympic Weightlifting specialist coaches to help them.

      So I personally think it is inaccurate to say it was because of CrossFit that this unfortunate thing happened. I think it is more accurate to say that a competition that he was involved in, which happened to be CrossFit-based, may have been a part of many contributing factors…maybe…but even the plates where they were would have been fine if he turned the other way…. so many factors.

      I have said it elsewhere – I wrote this piece to suggest it wasn’t what so many people thought which was the bar coming back off the plates…it just doesn’t look like that on the live feed video that I have seen.

  17. I agree with this assessment Anthony. Watching in slow motion, the injury appears to happen just as he is standing up with the bar still in his hands, accounting for the awkward bail. It also looks like he was already on the ground before the bar even hit the stack of blue plates, then when it does hit, it doesn’t bounce back up or touch his body. It’s similar to how elderly people will fall because their hip is fractured, rather than their hip getting fractured/broken because they fell. It really looks like he had a preexisting fracture or injury of some sort, especially considering his skill level and experience.

    1. Yes – I agree. I even caught a lady who twisted around to speak to me, and started to fall. I am a big guy and she was lucky to be 5 foot tall. I caught her and gently lowered her to the ground but she had twisted the ball of the hip clean off the top of the bone. Nothing I could have done about that. She never hit the ground… :/

  18. Excellent article and analysis. I think you are clearly onto something in that the damage may have happened prior to the drop. After watching the video numerous times I have noticed that his legs clearly disengage while still under load and his body begins to drop. It can take a second or two before pain will register so to expect the reaction on his face to be instantaneous is not reasonable. Finally these bumper plates do not tend to rebound with much energy, they dead bounce quite well, had they been Hi-Temps or of that style I would not be surprised at a significant rebound but not from what is on the video.

    1. This is not a CrossFit injury, an Weightlifting injury, or a programming injury. This is a physiological injury. You will notice that that coming out of the bottom, he has full control, extension, and reach. Upon transitioning to full stance, his feet buckle, he completely drops the bar and loses full stance. This is a sign of loss of control. It’s a break. There had to be underlying issues. The bar does not bounce with SUCH force and within less than a foot to mount that much damage. There are countless videos of people being hit by cars at a greater volocity and withstanding the impact unscathed. The Thoracic vertebrae are the thickest of the spine. IT WAS A FREAK ACCIDENT.

  19. Matt

    This video is edited therefore none of you can make any conclusion regarding the event. We have had professional analysis of the video done and the results will be released along with a statement from Kevin. The bar never landed on him.

    1. Finch

      Someone who is Kevin’s friend should advise him not to talk publicly or to Crossfit representatives without his lawyer present.

  20. I too am a physical therapist. As most have stated, a different angle, unedited would be very helpful in establishing a more reliable hypothesis. I have watched the video hundreds of times, slowed down and full speed. Yes, it does appear that the bar hits the bumpers and could have hit him in his mid/low back with some force However, it appears that something went wrong, way wrong, prior to the bar ever hitting the ground. This isn’t the result of an experienced CrossFitter getting “dizzy” from a submaximal lift (despite the programming and wods) and being too ‘dizzy’ to properly bail from under the bar. Is it very likely that the CNS was taxed due to the high loads, volume, and intensity from the weekend?…sure. The cause of this traumatic of an injury?….unlikely. But as most of the bloggers have stated, I would like to see a better angle, read some x-ray and MRI results, etc. Just my two cents….for what its worth.

    *side note-I like the author also have a degree in exercise science and doctorate in physical therapy*

    1. Anonymous

      Looking at internet footage of KO in Olympic lifts, his form seemed to be off. Chest thrust forward, heels off the ground, lacking the strong spine of true experienced Olympic Lifters. All of which would place tremendous forces on his thoracic spine, again and again. I think he hit a breaking point at this competition. See my post below & link to video & pics I’ve formed my opinion from.

  21. crowdebr453

    I too am a physical therapist. As most have stated, a different angle, unedited would be very helpful in establishing a more reliable hypothesis. I have watched the video hundreds of times, slowed down and full speed. Yes, it does appear that the bar hits the bumpers and could have hit him in his mid/low back with some force However, it appears that something went wrong, way wrong, prior to the bar ever hitting the ground. This isn’t the result of an experienced CrossFitter getting “dizzy” from a submaximal lift (despite the programming and wods) and being too ‘dizzy’ to properly bail from under the bar. Is it very likely that the CNS was taxed due to the high loads, volume, and intensity from the weekend?…sure. The cause of this traumatic of an injury?….unlikely. But as most of the bloggers have stated, I would like to see a better angle, read some x-ray and MRI results, etc. Just my two cents….for what its worth.

    *side note-I like the author also have a degree in exercise science and doctorate in physical therapy*

  22. Spinal surgeons and radiologists chime in over at REDDIT on Kevin Ogar’s horrific accident …

    From the linked article, other articles elsewhere, a REDDIT thread, parallels to NTSB transportation accident reports, military after action reviews, blah blah blah, I applaud Antony Lo for writing this rather than following the “STFU crowd”. As is said frequently elsewhere, “Cream rises to the top”, these ongoing discussions will filter out the crap (“freak accident maaaaannnnn!!!”) from the cream (plates on platform, event programming, exhaustion, pre-existing conditions, EMT support on scene, other stuff). Although the chain of command is confused; it would be neat if a committee of fitness community respected grey beards (USA Weightlifting, American Physical Therapy Association, various Spine Surgeon Associations, National EMT, etc) came together to evaluate the incident, making recommendations for events, training and screening.

  23. this is a dumb lift in my opinion… what does it truly change physique-wise? I’d rather not do it with heavy weights. More for stamina/endurance/whole body fatigue. Bring on the hate.

  24. Not CrossFit related is inaccurate no matter how you look at it. He was lifting in an event and fatigued from the previous WODs, so it all played a part. That being the case, I think you are very likely correct that some significant part of his injury occurred in the lifting phase, prior to the bar bouncing up and hitting him.

  25. Highly unlikely. Pars defects that high in the spine (T10/T11) are unheard of. Plus the vertebral junction with the ribs would provide even more support. Most common pars defects are at the L4/L5 and L5/S1 levels, and even extremely rare at L4/L5. And even if it was pre-existing your body fills in the “gap” with very strong cartilaginous tissue to stabilize it. Once again highly unlikely in my opinion. But I send him my best whatever the cause.

    1. Agreed. I think possible stress fractures maybe causing the pars defects, not congenital defects.

      Also burst fracture and disc are other obvious suspects… but they would be related to the bar landing on him…which it does but after something makes him drop the bar.

  26. Anonymous

    This was completely related to the lift. It was absolutely not a freak incident with the weights bouncing off the floor. It was a lot of weight directly over his head and the lift went wrong. It is always a danger in lifting heavy weight. And it is irresponsible to play if off as a freak accident not caused by the move itself.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I still think it is a freak accident – how many incidents like this have we had from people standing up a snatch or overhead squat?

      I didn’t say it wasn’t related to the lift. In fact, I said it was related to loaded extension during the lift.

    1. Well, I have been thinking about since I have seen the clearer and more extensive footage…I think something happened standing the bar up – it caused him to start going down and he simply drops his hands down as if to break the fall. The bar lands on his left upper back and shoulder and may have made that injury worse.

      But I am still obviously guessing…

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  28. David King

    I have carefully watched the very poor quality video. My hypothesis is that he passed the sticking point before the incident occurred. This incident caused him to drop very quickly under the bar. Kevin was falling backwards. As the bar came down, it grazes his upper back. It does not apply axial compression to the spine. Kevin is push upright by the force of the bar. Kevin lands heavily on his coccyx.

    1. I have reviewed the video again closely. I have a clear version and can view frame by frame.

      1. Something makes him drop the bar
      2. The bar hits his left upper back/shoulder
      3. The plates of the bar contacts the weight stack behind him. This causes 2 plates to shoot somewhat backwards. The bar does not appear to travel forwards but moves sideways before moving over the plates and rolling away. This may be because it contacts his back. It may be that it moves sideways and Kevin leans back on the bar which sends it backwards. I only saw this because I used different software to zoom in on the plates.

      I wish I had a side view :/

      1. David King

        Antony is this “clear version” you are watching the same as the one posted below?

        After looking at the “clear version” below, my comments diverge a little from what some others have said.

        1. The video is a little clearer but it is not clear.
        2. The guy on his left was lucky he did not get hurt.
        3. During the lift Kevin suffers the incident and drops his head.
        4. I cannot see the bar strike Kevin on his shoulder but I can imagine some contact.
        5. The plate behind Kevin, in my opinion, does not shoot forward and hit him.
        6. Kevin hits the ground without disturbing the plates behind him. He moves to sit on his left hip and pushes the top plate backwards.
        7. Once again I can imagine some injury to his coccyx.

        1. Hi David,

          No, I now have a version that is basically the same but better resolution and longer. I have been busy over the weekend teaching a course so I haven’t really gotten around to reviewing much until now. I also used different software to look which allowed me to zoom in a bit to see things differently…

          We can debate what we see but it will be hard to know until we hear from Kevin himself about what happened or we have other vision from the side.

          The three possibilities are
          1. Something happened to make him drop the bar – i still think something like this happened – it may not have caused the paralysis but something seems to have happened. I could be wrong
          2. The bar definitely landed on his body – it bends. Did this compress and shear something? Did it finish something off that started earlier?
          3. The weights on the bar DO contact the 45lbs weight stack behind him. The bar appears to move sideways and backwards. I am not sure how that happens without some force making it go backwards which is likely to be Kevin leaning on it.

          The key lessons that should be discussed are:
          1. Training load, technique and volume – my hypothesis is that something preexisted and this unfortunate accident just topped it off. This is not “blaming” anyone or anything…just considering the contributing factors
          2. Procedures concerning athlete and weights placement. Would the same thing have happened if he faced the other way? Apparently others did. Or if he chose to stand further from the plates? Who knows?
          3. Reviewing ways to prevent this from happening again and the procedures should something terrible happen at any event in the future.

          1. DavidKing

            I agree with you Anthony. Going forward I feel changes have to be made. Let this incident be the catalyst for positive change.

            While I am no expert I do want to raise a point for consideration. I am not putting the blame on anyone and I certainly intend no disrespect.

            My understanding of this event is that it was by invitation only; and included only well trained and experienced athletes. And also that the event was poorly organized. Poorly organized in that there was no insurance, no medic on hand, the setup of plates behind the competitors, and other issues that people are mentioning.

            The point I want to raise is that these highly qualified and seasoned competitors, individually, should have made an assessment of the conditions of the event – any and all events. The should be taking a position of leadership. They should be guiding event organizers and they should be refusing to take part in events that don’t reach their high standards. They should be doing this for their personal safety but also critically for the welfare of the less experienced athletes moving through the system.

            I am not laying blame on anyone, as I belive this incident to have been an accident, but this focus now taking place has revealed some issues which should not have been prevalent.

          2. My take-away lessons so far include:

            *Provide enough room between the rig and the lifting platform

            *Make certain that the lifting platform is clear and that any loose plates are placed off the front or sides of the platform

            *Provide enough room between athletes/platforms when any kind of weight will be overhead

            *Remind athletes during qualifying to practice safe techniques for missing lifts and to make use of those techniques as needed during the event

            *Remind athletes that they have a responsibility both to themselves and to everybody else on the competition floor to control the object that they are working with.

            Missing a lift happens to all of us, even under the best of circumstances. The event organizer is responsible for providing a space where each athlete can perform at their best in a manner that is safe for both themselves and others. Each athlete is responsible for maintaining control of themselves and whatever object they are working with to prevent any interference with those around them.

          3. David King

            @Daner: I’d like to take this further. What about a medical test for all athletes? Insurance? I am sure others can contribute much more extensively to these requirements.

          4. My recommendations were written primarily from my perspective as a Judge Manager and Judge/Athlete flow designer for this past weekend’s Battle of London. We had 300 individual athletes who were handled in 10 heats of 30 athletes each (yes, it was a big rig!), so you can imagine that this has been weighing pretty heavily on my mind, and I alluded to this in my call for control and safety during the athlete briefing. Even so, I ended up with a long list of suggestions for improvement over the course of the event. We try to learn from everything we can in order to make future events better and safer. We’ll have a chance to test some of that in 3 weeks at the Central Europe Throwdown.

            Here in Europe we don’t have the same liability issues and the vast majority of citizens have fairly complete medical insurance coverage. That being the case, there are still liability waivers to be signed and all of the events that I have worked with have medics on hand.

  29. The injury is very obvious, if you look at a better quality video and you watch it in slow motion. The injury is caused by the top silver plate being shot forcibly into his lower back after he is already on the ground. This is not visible in the video on this webpage, but it is visible in the same video that I’ve seen on other websites. There are two silver plates on the ground behind him to the left. After he hits the ground, the bar comes crashing down onto the edge of the silver plates, which causes the top plate to shoot into his lower back. In better videos, you can actually see in one frame that the top plate is between its starting spot and his back, then, in the next frame, it’s not visible, because it’s behind his back, and his face shows his obvious pain.

    It’s not relevant why he failed the lift, why he sat backwards, and all that. There was a massive object (10 or 20 pounds) shot into his back at a very high rate of speed. That’s where the injury occurred, and it matches the moment his legs went stiff and his face became shocked.

    Clearly unsafe lifting conditions, notwithstanding the bizarre nature of the injury – he was within one step of stepping on the plates when he began his lift. Does nobody see that as an issue when a man is throwing a large amount of weight over his head with no restraints whatsoever?

    Good luck to this man.

    1. Hold the presses!! Thanks for the nice video Igor!
      While the plate clearly kicks out after being hit by the barbell weights, it goes backwards, not forwards, and so I was wrong.
      Looking at the video linked by Igor, I’d now have to agree with the poster, above, who surmised that he was fully seated and on the ground when the bar hit him in the back, either directly on on the bounce, and that that is what caused the break. Just a guess, based on the video. We may never know.

      Good luck sir – a new phase of your life begins – you are clearly a hard working man, and your training to date is now going to be very useful to you.

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  31. Anthony

    I appreciate your analysis, but my OPINION is that this is just another cop out for Crossfit. It is very true that he could have had a previous injury due to rugby, or a list of other events, but lets not jump to the conclusion that Crossfit had nothing to do with this. Kevin was definitely an advanced lifter, and you are absolutely correct that he knew how to fail a lift. But the stress that these athletes put on their bodies is extreme and easily could be the cause of the injury. All over the internet you can find footage of other, less experienced, Crossfit athletes doing olympic style lifts with horrendous form, mainly involving their spine being forced into a dangerous position. This is a tragic accident, and my deepest condolences go out to Kevin and his family, but I can’t handle the way this “community” is blowing this off as a 1 in a million event. Crossfit is all about doing more,more,more and truly lacks the discipline of doing lifts correctly, and the understanding that these exercises can produce dangerous results if done incorrectly. So when I see teenagers, or adults who are new to exercise being told or directed to do olympic lifts, my blood boils. This type of injury, though rare, is bound to happen again, as well as other devastating injuries, and it shouldn’t take another person (especially a teenager) getting seriously injured to realize that there may be something wrong with this approach to training. We don’t know the effects of Crossfit style training on the human body 10, 20, 30 years later. We do, however, know that overloading the spine can cause significant damage. I really hope we don’t see anymore injuries like this again. Regardless, thank you Antony for the article.

    1. I agree with the possibility of previous injury. It seems evident in video I’ve seen that he goes limp on the way UP in the lift, as if something just snapped. However, I feel it is 100% the “fault” of CrossFit. I feel the CrossFit world is playing at something it doesn’t know near enough about – Olympic Lifting. While I’m certain there are some CrossFit coaches who are truly qualified to teach Olympic Lifts, I’m also certain that the majority of activity isn’t properly coached. Even Mr Ogar, by reputation, an “experienced lifter” , did not seem to understand the finer points of the Olympic Lifts he was performing. Looking at pictures & video of him online, it seems he was experienced at poor form. In the pictures I found of him in a deep squat position, bar overhead, is chest way pushed out & his heels are off the ground. Both would place exceptional strain on the thoracic spine when performed repeatedly over time. See my biz Facebook page (page link below, post made on 1/27/13).

      All of this is the fault of CrossFit because the event has taken all safety measures set in place by the Olympic Lifting community and thrown them out the door for CrossFit training & competitions. They promote “pressing out” lifts that experienced Olympic Lifters would fail for fear of injury. In this environment, injury is bound to happen. Also, the placement of Olympic Lifting events after other fatiguing events just doesn’t make sense. In any way.

      I wish the powers that be at CrossFit would stop shrugging off blame, saying it was an accident and own the fact that it’s time to make some changes in their workouts & competitions. It wasn’t an accident. People are constantly getting injured in CrossFit, and it’s solely because of the programming & ineffective coaching. I have no problem with the basic premises of “train like an athlete”, but CrossFit doesn’t even follow the periodization that athletes train with. It’s an ego blitz that ends with way to many participants managing injuries. And that’s just my 2 cents worth…

      About Kevin Ogar himself, my heart breaks, but it seems that he has a strong spirit and with the care & counseling he’ll get at Craig Hospital in Colorado, he’ll likely come out of this with a still active lifestyle. I wish him the best of luck in this new life.

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