University to pay $14 million after wrestler dies of heatstroke

A Kentucky university has agreed to pay $14 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a student wrestler who died of heat stroke after training in August 2020.

Grant Brace, 20, a wrestler from the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., about 100 miles south of Lexington, died hours after begging for water during practice, according to a lawsuit filed by his family.

A lawyer for Mr Brace’s parents, Kyle and Jacqueline Brace, and his sister, Kaylee Wagnon, said they were “relieved and very pleased” that the university had been held liable in civil court.

“The amount of money paid out sends a clear message about the level of wrongdoing, not just from the coaches, but from the university itself,” the attorney, James Moncus, said in an email. mail.

The university said in a statement that it believed it could defend itself against the claims made in the family’s lawsuit, but wanted to avoid a “long, difficult and costly” legal process.

University of the Cumberlands Chancellor Jerry Jackson said in a statement that Mr Brace was “a talented and valued young man who enters his first year with a bright future ahead of him”.

“Our university community continues to mourn their untimely loss,” Jackson said. “We sincerely hope that resolving this matter early in the legal process will provide the Brace family with a measure of peace and healing.”

Mr. Brace was from Louisville, Tennessee, and majored in business administration, the school said. He graduated from Alcoa High School in Alcoa, Tennessee, where he wrestled, played football, and was in the National Honor Society.

His family’s lawsuit said doctors prescribed Mr Brace Adderall to treat his ADHD and narcolepsy and said that while using the drug it was essential that he remained hydrated.

The university had said accommodations would be made for his hydration needs and medical condition, according to the suit.

On August 31, 2020, the school’s wrestling team began training by running down a track, then were told to sprint up and down “Punishment Hill,” a steep incline, seven times, depending on the combination.

The temperature that day peaked at 83 degrees at London Corbin Airport, which is about 30 miles from the university, according to the National Weather Service.

During the sprints, Mr. Brace stopped and said he was exhausted. A trainer, Jordan Countryman, responded by saying he had been kicked off the team and should return to the wrestling room, the suit said.

Mr Brace started sprinting again but then said he could not continue.

Mr. Countryman is no longer a college coach, and he and his lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

In the wrestling room after practice, Mr. Brace “laid down on the wrestling mat asking for water,” the suit said.

The coaches yelled at the students who tried to help him, and as Mr. Brace’s mental health deteriorated, which is a symptom of heat stroke, the coaches told him to leave the wrestling room, depending on the suit.

He sought help outside but collapsed and was found dead on campus at least 45 minutes after leaving the room, the suit said.

“He was found with his hands clinging to the grass and the ground,” the suit said.

Under the regulations, the school is required to participate in heat-related illness training with a physician and promote family efforts to raise awareness of heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke. stress, which are caused by intense physical activity.

According to a 2022 report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina, signs of heatstroke include nausea, inconsistentness, weakness, cramping, flushed appearance, and unsteadiness. .

The center said that between 2017 and 2021 there had been an average of 2.4 exertional heat stroke deaths per year, an increase from 1.4 per year over the five-year period. former. Exertional heat stroke deaths can be prevented with proper precautions, early detection and emergency management, according to the report.

nytimes sport

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