Garden City Community College has received a report following an independent investigation into the death of Braeden Bradforth, a GCCC football player who died suddenly in August 2018 after completing his first day of practice.
In May, the college retained Randy J. Aliment and Jordan Ford, of Lewis Brisbois, a law firm defending the college in a separate case, to conduct the third-party investigation. At the time, college spokeswoman Ashley Salazar said the investigation would attempt to “identify facts which may have caused or contributed to the death” of Bradforth.
Soon after, Aliment and Ford retained Rod Walters, the lead investigator in the death of a University of Maryland football player, to assist in the investigation.
Salazar said this week that the college has received a review of the investigation and that the office of GCCC president Ryan Ruda was the only recipient. She declined to provide a copy of the review, citing attorney-client privilege.
She said she was not sure of next steps or whether the college planned to share the report with Bradforth’s mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram — represented by attorney Jill Greene — or U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who has been critical of the college’s handling of Bradforth’s death.
Greene said this week that she has not contacted or heard from the college regarding the investigation but plans to reach out to the institution if she does not hear from it by the end of the week.
Greene said she and Atkins-Ingram are “anxious and excited” to see what is in the report.
“Hopefully it will provide more information and more insight into what really happened,” she said. “We’re still in the dark as far as what transpired between the time that Braeden wandered off the field and the time the EMS were called.”
While neither college personnel nor counsel have contacted Greene or Atkins-Ingram, they have also not yet indicated that they will withhold findings from the internal investigation. Atkins-Ingram said she hopes the college does not withhold the information.
“We’ve waited so long to just find out what happened to Braeden,” Atkins-Ingram said. “Because this has been the whole issue from the beginning. And I shouldn’t have to continue to fight to find out what happened to my son. We already know how he died. We need to know why. Why did this have to happen and what are they going to do to change things?
“No matter what, we’re not going to go away."
GCCC called for the investigation in May, shortly after releasing a summary of an internal review into Bradforth’s death. For months, the college refused to release information in the review to the public, despite public criticism from Atkins-Ingram, Greene and Smith.
All three have been outspoken about the college’s choices surrounding the incident, criticizing a lack of transparency.
The GCCC Board of Trustees originally mandated the investigation should not exceed $100,000 in expenditures, but it authorized up to $100,000 in additional funding in August.
On Aug. 1, 2018, teammates found Bradforth unconscious outside of the GCCC dorms sometime after the practice and team meeting, which Bradforth did not attend. He was eventually taken to St. Catherine Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The cause of death was ruled as exertional heat stroke, a condition a former team physician for the University of Oklahoma, Randy Eichner, has said is preventable, treatable and “should never” lead to the death of an athlete.
Contact Amber Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of the former team physician for the University of Oklahoma. It is spelled Randy Eichner.