KY 2nd grader killed when basketball goal fell on him. Family donates his ‘heart of gold.’

·3 min read

An 8-year-old boy from Corbin who died Monday was “out of the ordinary” for a second-grader, a natural athlete and a top student, his principal said.

Eli Hill “could do things that were out of the ordinary for a second grade student, especially in math and reading,” said Corbin Primary School Principal Travis Wilder. He was the kind of kid that would stop and help somebody he didn’t even know, said Corbin Independent Superintendent David Cox.

Eli died Monday evening while playing basketball at his family’s home in Corbin, according to his mother and local officials. The Fayette County Coroner’s Office said the backboard of the basketball goal fell off the post. It fell on top of him, leaving him with blunt force trauma to the chest. He died at University of Kentucky Medical Center.

His mother, Ashley Hill, said the family donated Eli’s organs.

“Eli had a heart of gold and somebody else has that heart now,” Ashley Hill, Eli’s mother, said Tuesday in an interview. “We know it was somebody else’s answered prayer this morning to get that call.”

“There is somebody out there with new corneas,” she said.

Eli Hill, his sister Allie Hill and brother Asa Hill.
Eli Hill, his sister Allie Hill and brother Asa Hill.

Ashley Hill was a former teacher and the chief academic officer for the Corbin Independent school district who recently went to work for the Kentucky Department of Education.

“I always knew that Eli was going to do something special with his life, but I didn’t know this was it,” Ashley Hill said. “He was brilliant and I’m not just saying that because he’s mine. He talked early. He walked early. He was so intuitive. He felt deeply for people. He loved people and he loved God.’”

“I just miss my baby, and I want people to know his life mattered,” she said.

‘The students are devastated’

Eli “was a leader for his age,” said Wilder. “He was just well-liked. He was a natural athlete. He was a shining star at our school. The students are devastated at his passing.”

“He was so loved,” said Eli’s father, Adam Hill.

Eli had an older sister and a younger brother.

“Yesterday afternoon around 5 p.m. there was a tragic accident involving a Corbin Primary student,” a message posted on the Corbin Independent Schools District website said Monday. “The young man was at his home playing basketball and the goal structure he was playing on collapsed and fell on top of him.”

Ashley Hill said she was inside their home cooking supper and Eli was in the driveway playing basketball when the incident occurred. He pulled a chair over to dunk the basketball and at some point, the goal fell off and crushed Eli’s chest, she said.

The Fayette County Coroner’s Office confirmed the basketball goal fell on Eli at his home and that he died at the pediatric emergency room at University of Kentucky Medical Center. The cause of death was blunt force trauma, the coroner’s office said.