Tragedy befell an Italian man Wednesday after a giant crucifix honoring Pope John Paul II collapsed and instantaneously crushed him to death.

The victim, 21-year-old Marco Gusmini, died on the spot. While he was among others who attempted to flee when a piece of the cross detached, he was unable to escape in time.

Gusmini was reportedly posing for a photo with friends when the accident happened.

The incident involving the heavy, 98-foot wooden cross unfolded just days before the pontiff will be canonized, officially becoming a saint in the eyes of the Catholic Church, Agence France-Presse reported.

“It is an inexplicable tragedy. A young life, so many hopes, destroyed this way,” Silvio Citroni, mayor of Cevo, told Agence France-Presse. “The boys ran in every direction when they heard the sound of the wood splintering. Unfortunately, that poor boy went the wrong way.”

The young man might have had a physical disability that made it difficult for him to move quickly away from the cross, Italian media reported.

Adding to the story’s odd details, Gusmini is reported to have lived with his family on a street named after Pope John XXIII, who will also be canonized Sunday by the Catholic Church, as the Telegraph reported.

The giant crucifix honors Pope John Paul II’s visit to northern Italy in 1998. It was first assembled in 2005 and was designed by sculptor Enrico Job.

Job’s widow spoke out in the wake of the incident, saying that her thoughts are with the boy and his family.

(H/T: Raw Story)

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