7-Year-Old Gets Caught in Dust Devil During Baseball Game

17-year-old umpire Aidan Wiles rescues Bauer Zoya in odd phenomenon in Jacksonville, Florida
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2023 8:24 AM CDT

A young baseball player in Florida got quite the scare over the weekend when he was caught up in what looked like a pint-size tornado of dust in the middle of the game. WPLG reports that 7-year-old Bauer Zoya, a catcher for the Ponte Vedra Sharks, was on a field Sunday in Jacksonville as his team played the Fort Caroline Athletic Association Indians. A video on NBC News shows Bauer crouched down behind home plate as a rival is up at bat, when suddenly the dust around him starts wildly spinning in the air, right as the batter swings.

Bauer seems blinded and disoriented by what's going on, until 17-year-old umpire Aidan Wiles rushes in, scoops Bauer up, and drags him out of the swirling sand. Aidan tells NBC News the rocks spinning around in the mini-whirlwind scratched his chest and stomach, but he knew he had to help Bauer. "At first I was freaking out myself, until I saw him trapped in it," he says. The phenomenon was what's called a "dust devil," which Fox Weather notes isn't a tornado, but instead something that typically emerges on sunny, hot days with a bit of wind, when "dust-filled vortices are created by surface heating." They're usually only a few minutes in duration.

For Bauer, however, it felt like a lifetime. "I couldn't breathe that much," he tells WPLG. "So I held my breath." He says it felt like "I couldn't touch the ground" and that he was "lifted up a little bit." The boy turned out to be fine after Aidan's rescue: His dad poured water in his eyes, then sent him back onto the field to continue playing. Bauer's dad says it was "special to see" Aidan jump into the dust devil to help his son. As for the weather event itself, Aidan tells NBC: "I've never seen anything like that in my whole entire life, on and off the field." (More strange stuff stories.)

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