Garden City Community College, the Kansas school where Braeden Bradforth, a football standout from Neptune died last August 1 following an intense day of workouts, has reversed course after months on stonewalling the cause and circumstances of the tragedy and agreed to fund a $100,000 independent external investigation.
“After a time of advisement from counsel, the GCCC board of trustees has authorized President (Ryan) Ruda and college attorney Randy Grisell to begin the process of retaining outside counsel for the purpose of conducting an independent, external investigation into the Aug. 1, 2018, death of GCCC student-athlete Braeden Bradforth. The board also stipulated that retention of counsel and the investigation are not to exceed $100,000,” the school said in a statement.
The school’s reversal follows months of public pressure in New Jersey and Kansas led by Bradforth’s mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, her attorney, Jill E. Green of Avon-By-The-Sea, and Congressman Chris Smith.
New Jersey’s 11 Democrat members of the House of Representatives joined the delegation’s sole Republican, Congressman Chris Smith, on April 30 in the battle to achieve justice for Bradforth and his mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram.
Congressman Smith issued the following statement upon learning the news of GCCC reversing course:
“We—especially Braeden’s mother Joanne—hope that today’s announcement will prove to be a very important step towards true transparency and we are cautiously optimistic the GCCC Board of Trustees’ decision to intervene and join our call for an independent, external investigation will finally reveal what happened during Braeden Bradforth’s last day and what can be done to prevent others from suffering the same fate.
“After many months of tirelessly fighting for answers on what happed to her son, Joanne Atkins-Ingram has finally been promised an objective, professional probe—and the information any grieving mother deserves. Joanne and her attorney, Jill Greene of Avon, NJ have stood up, courageously fighting for justice for Braeden and today they have been heard. I will continue to work closely with them to ensure that the college now commissions a truly independent, external investigation driven by a commitment to transparency, truth and accountability.
“Among other things, this investigation should establish a detailed, second-by-second timeline of events on the night of Braeden’s death, with interviews of eyewitnesses who were at Braeden’s last football practice and those who later found him unresponsive. It should review Braeden’s medical records and any workout notes, as well as the college’s policies and protocols for student-athlete health and safety in place at the time of Braeden’s death, including its emergency action plan, and whether any updates to those policies are in line with current best practices. If it is properly done, this investigation could save lives in the future by helping prevent heat stroke deaths through education on best practices.”
After the University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair died on June 13, 2018 of heat stroke after football practice, the university commissioned an investigation by a sports medicine consultant, Walters, Inc., that reviewed the college’s protocols for maintaining student-athlete health and safety in light of best practices, and whether they were appropriately implemented. The report assessed the college’s Emergency Action Plan and examined documents relevant to McNair’s death, including his workout notes and medical records. Congressman Smith has been calling on GCCC to conduct a similar investigation.