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Braeden Bradforth, an incoming Garden City Community College freshman, died Aug. 1. The family hasn't ruled out filing a lawsuit in response. 

By Charlotte Carroll
December 14, 2018

A lawyer for the family of a Garden City Community College freshman who died after an August football practice says they are considering a lawsuit. 

A recent autopsy revealed that the cause of death for Braeden Bradforth, 19, was exertional heat stroke. Bradforth died Aug. 1, hours after the team's first day of practice.

The autopsy, conducted by pathologist Dr. Eva Vachal, concluded that he died of overexertion that was aggravated by other factors.

"Considering the facts surrounding the case (decedent’s first intense workout of the year; ambient temperature in the 80s F with humidity; stomach containing food and vomiting; a hemorrhagic diathesis; tachycardia; tachypnea; possible complicating comorbidities of overweight, cardiac hypertrophy, and history of asthma), the cause of death is judged to be exertional heat stroke," the autopsy reads.

Former GCCC head football coach Jeff Sims, who is now the head coach at Missouri Southern State University, told Sports Illustrated on Aug. 3 that while they were waiting on an autopsy, an emergency room doctor told him a test was indicative of a blood clotting disorder. Sims told SI that Bradforth had meetings in the morning and had the afternoon off before nighttime conditioning. 

But Vachal ruled out a blood clot, writing "there was no evidence of pulmonary thromboembolism."

Toxicology tests for drugs and alcohol were negative, the report states.

Bradforth's mother, Joanne Atkins Ingram, hired a lawyer when she felt that something was off, her lawyer Jill Elaine Greene told Sports Illustrated. Greene said while they have yet to file a lawsuit as they wait for further information, a "lawsuit is certainly very possible." Greene declined to say who the family would target with a potential lawsuit.

Greene said, "At this point, we just want answers."

Bradforth moved to Garden City, Kan., two days before his death, according to the autopsy. The report states he was at practice that ended at 9:30 p.m. that night and he didn't attend post-practice meetings. (Greene believes he attended two practice sessions that day.) He was then found unconscious outside his dorm room 20 minutes later. He was pronounced dead at 11:06 p.m., a half hour after arriving at the hospital.

GCCC released a statement Dec. 5 announcing an internal review. School spokeswoman Ashley Salazar told Sports Illustrated she didn't have a timeframe of when the review would be complete. Salazer said the administrative team is taking part in the review with interim athletic director Colin Lamb taking the lead. 

"Garden City Community College received word on November 29th that the autopsy report for former GCCC student Braeden Bradforth was released as public record," the statement reads. "The report cites Braden’s cause of death as exertional heat stroke. Garden City Community College grieves with Braeden’s family after his untimely death in August of 2018. The institution recognizes the importance of the autopsy’s findings, and that these findings provide Braden’s family with an understanding of the medical circumstances surrounding his passing. In order to provide additional factual information, an internal review is being conducted by GCCC administrators. The review was launched at the direction of Interim President, Dr. Ryan Ruda. It was among the first actions taken in his new role. The ongoing review is intended to ensure that the college can transparently inform the community, the media, and—most importantly—Braeden’s family of the accurate facts and circumstances surrounding Braeden’s death."

In response to a possible suit, Salazar said, "Our comment on that is that we believe his family should do what they feel is right and what’s best for them. We don’t have a comment other than that statement that they should do what they believe is in their best interest."

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