Independent investigation into the death of Braeden Bradforth is ‘utterly heartbreaking’

Braeden’s mom, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, is flanked by her attorney Jill Greene and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) at an April 5 press conference.

TAP November 15, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) said today that, “the report summarizing the independent investigation into the death of Braeden Bradforth is utterly heartbreaking, in that it confirms that Braeden’s death was 100 percent preventable.

 “The investigator found that ‘a striking lack of leadership’ by Garden City Community College officials ‘set off a series of events that ended with the death of Braeden Bradforth.’ I can only imagine how difficult this is for Braeden’s mom, Joanne, to read; yet it is exactly what she and I have long requested—a transparent and independent review of the facts so steps can be taken to prevent another death of a student athlete,” Smith said.
“In a very special way Joanne’s incredible love and devotion to Braeden inspired this report precisely so that no other parent has to suffer what she has… the loss of a child from something that could have been prevented. Its findings must now serve as the basis for new protocols and protections going forward,” Smith said.You have successfully signed up for the TAPinto Middletown Newsletter.

Smith said the report did not hold back in identifying specific gaps in the college’s training and care programs for its athletes. He pointed to pages 38 and 39 which concluded: A cause of Braeden Bradforth’s death was a poorly designed and administered conditioning test for an unconditioned, non-acclimated student-athlete.

A contributing cause of Braeden Bradforth’s death was the failure to have and implement an effective Emergency Action Plan.
No pre-existing condition played a role in causing Braeden Bradforth’s death.  “We must do all we can to identify the signs and treat this life-threatening medical emergency before it takes another athlete,” Smith said. “Since Braeden’s death 15 months ago, more athletes have been stricken with exertional heat stroke—and many before Braeden, including the June 2018 death of Jordan McNair, a University of Maryland football player.”
Earlier this year Smith introduced the Braeden’s Commission: Protect our Athletes from Exertional Heat Stroke, H.R. 4145, bipartisan legislation to establish a federal commission composed of health professionals who will be tasked with providing recommendations on how to reduce exertional heat stroke in high school and collegiate student athletes.
“It is my hope that through the enactment of a Braeden’s Commission we will identify best practices for the prevention, recognition, and treatment of exertional heat stroke, and we will establish a comprehensive national strategy so not one more athlete is taken by this totally preventable and avoidable illness,” Smith said. The legislation was introduced in the House on Aug. 2, one day after announcing it at a memorial in Braeden’s hometown of Neptune, N.J., exactly one year after Braeden’s death.
BACKGROUND:  Braeden Bradforth was 19 when he arrived on the campus of Garden City Community College in Kansas (GCCC) to play football. On Aug. 1, 2018, only his second day on campus, he collapsed after evening football practice and was found unresponsive. After being taken to the hospital in an ambulance some time later, he passed away due to exertional heat stroke, his autopsy later revealed.
In March, Smith met with Braeden’s mother Joanne Atkins-Ingram and promised to do everything he could to assist her in her efforts to find out more about her son’s death, and what actions could be taken to prevent such tragedies in the future. He joined Ms. Atkins-Ingram in pressing the college to conduct an independent investigation after finding that no true investigation of Braeden’s death had been performed.
Some nine months after Braeden’s death, GCCC voted to commission the independent investigation. Released to the public today, the report revealed numerous contributing causes of death in this moving case, including “the failure to timely identify and treat Braeden’s exertional heat illness” and that there was “no identification of Braeden’s escalating symptoms” by numerous individuals.  It goes on to report that when treatment is administered within 30 minutes of detection, exertional heat stroke death can be averted.

Read the full report here.