by Irvin Muchnick
As we’ve been reporting, the coroner’s report filed this week in Finney County (Kansas) district court establishes gross negligence on the part of Garden City Community College and its football coach Jeff Sims in the August 1 death of 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth. The cause of death was exertional heat stroke — not a blood clot or any of the other smoke Sims was blowing at the time of the incident, from which every news outlet except Concussion Inc. lazily moved on.
Today, Jill Greene, the New Jersey-based attorney for Braeden’s mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, issued this statement:
“While we are relieved to finally receive the autopsy report, we are also deeply saddened to learn that the cause of death is judged to be exertional heat stroke. Although the report helps to answer some of the many questions surrounding this incident, it is our intention to move forward with our investigation and hopefully provide further answers for Braeden’s family. At the very least we owe this to Braeden’s mother who is desperate for answers as to why her son died so tragically.”
I have been covering college football conditioning deaths going back to Rashidi Wheeler’s at Northwestern University in 2001. The answer of the Bradforth autopsy is crystal-clear. In my experence, “further answers” almost always culminate in a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against the educational institution whose coach-agent acted negligently or harmfully.
Yesterday, hours before the Garden City Broncbusters took the field for the national junior college championship game, Sims emailed me with his other familiar motif: that Bradforth’s untimely passing was an act of God, notwithstanding “newspaper headlines.” (What newspaper headlines?)
For those of you keeping score at home, Sims’ team — which won the National Junior College Athletic Association title game two years ago — would go on to fall this time to East Mississippi, 10-9.
Sims now takes his coaching act to Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri. By my count, this will be his 12th college football coaching stop, including two separate stints on the staff at Indiana University. And if you are into multiples of 12, the Bradforth death was No. 36 documented since 2000 in non-game (conditioning or practice session), non-contact deaths of players in all levels of college football.
At the bottom of this article is the latest lack of substance from Missouri Southern State on how that institution came to be hiring a head coach on the rebound from a wrongful-death controversy.
I published the 11-page autopsy report by Dr. Eva J. Vachal (viewable at http://muchnick.net/bradforthautopsy.pdf) and I noted that the cause of death finding is clear: “exertional heat stroke.” But did Vachal’s meticulous report also rule out the blood-clot theory that had been promoted by Coach Sims?
The answer is yes.
The clearest reference to this is on page 5, where it is unequivocally stated, “There was no evidence of pulmonary thromboembolism.”
Earlier in the document, on page 3 under “Vascular System,” the forensic pathologist writes: “The pulmonary artery is examined in situ and there is no evidence of pulmonary thromboembolism.” Just below that, under “Lung,” there is the note, “The vasculature is opened and there is no evidence of shower emboli.”
Football conditioning death expert Dr. Randy Eichner, retired team physician at the University of Oklahoma, summed it up when he told me, “Dr. Vachal says it three times in three different ways. This is one of the best autopsies and analyses I have seen in my 30 years of trying to end these tragic and preventable deaths.”
Eichner added: “She also excludes the self-serving Day 1 ‘diagnosis’ of ‘Doctor’ Jeff Sims that the cause was a killer blood clot unrelated to football.”
Yesterday, Missouri Southern State University, citing the confidentiality provisions of personnel files, said there would be no disclosures of whether and how the Braeden Bradforth death played out in the process of vetting, interviewing, and hiring Sims. In fairness to the university, a statement to this effect, by the campus chief human resources officer, landed at an awkward moment yesterday, when perhaps no one knew that there were potent new facts in the matter, via the release of the autopsy following a curiously long delay.
I therefore reiterated the questions to Missouri Southern State today, and kicked them upstairs to the president, Alan D. Marble. How Marble responds will be the focus of an upcoming article.
DEATH OF BRAEDEN BRADFORTH — COMPLETE HEADLINE LINKS:
Published August 3rd, 2018
Published August 9th, 2018
Published November 14th, 2018