MENASHA, WI—Local resident Stan Blaskowitz, a self-described "sports fanatic," was crushed and killed Sunday, when his seven-foot, 900-pound home entertainment center fell on him during the final seconds of a televised Green Bay Packers game.
"It was horrible," said friend and neighbor Bill Gustafson, who was a witness to the tragic accident. "I think the Pack could really go all the way this year."
According to Outagamie County coroners, Blaskowitz and several other Green Bay faithful decided to watch the game on Blaskowitz's living room television set because of its state-of-the-art nature, boasting a 27-inch screen, a built-in digital satellite system and stereo Surround Sound. Ironically, these were the same factors that coroners say contributed to his death by crushing.
According to eyewitness accounts, the fatal accident occurred during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. Blaskowitz, a longtime forklift operator at the Kimberly-Clark paper mill, was kneeling on the carpet in front of the entertainment center, having been pulled from his chair by the dramatic events he saw unfolding on the TV screen.
As Packers quarterback Brett Favre dropped back to attempt a game-winning touchdown pass, he stumbled in the face of a ferocious blitz, prompting an anxious Blaskowitz to pound the floor repeatedly with his fists. The entertainment center, which was probably already unbalanced due to an earlier mass celebration of Packer safety LeRoy Butler's third-quarter interception, plummeted down on Blaskowitz's head.
"It was horrible," said Christine Junker, a friend of Blaskowitz's who was on the couch at the time of the accident. "The TV hit Stan right on the top of his skull, and it just shattered—pieces of the picture tube were everywhere. We didn't know if Favre had gotten the pass off, if he was able to scramble out-of-bounds and stop the clock with enough time to get another play off, or if, God forbid, he was sacked."
Emergency medical technicians soon arrived on the scene to assist Blaskowitz's panicked companions, but their efforts to restore the television's failing reception were in vain. "We got the radio working again," ambulance driver Greg Stuckney said. "But we couldn't find the Green Bay Packer Radio Network. I was trying to get something on AM when I noticed the blood."
Blaskowitz was pronounced dead at the scene.
"Stan was a true fan," Gustafson said. "He died the way he lived, the way we should all strive to live, on his knees with a Schlitz TallBoy in one hand and the remote in the other, begging for the return of the glory days we all saw under Lombardi."
Added Gustafson: "The Pack is back in '96!"
Blaskowitz's friends and family will gather in a small ceremony at his house this Thursday to tell Packer stories and prepare Blaskowitz's wide-screen television for transferral to Fred's TV and Electronics Repair Emporium in nearby Waupaca, where it will await factory-authorized service alongside the deceased's other entertainment center components.
As of press time, Gustafson remained optimistic that Blaskowitz's entertainment center would be repaired in time for the Packers' appearance on Monday Night Football against Dallas in November.
"Stan would have wanted it that way," he said.