Mom who lost NJ athlete to heatstroke rallies federal lawmakers
A Monmouth County mother who lost her 19-year-old college athlete son to exertional heat stroke has been visiting Washington, D.C., to drum up support for an effort to prevent such deaths.
Braeden Bradforth, a graduate of Neptune High School, died Aug. 1, 2018, at a college in Kansas after a high-intensity workout with his football team.
Bradforth's mom, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, and attorney Jill Elaine Greene joined U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., on Jan. 29 on Capitol Hill for a series of meetings on the proposed Braeden's Commission.
The effort would bring together members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and would prompt a study on exertional heat stroke among student athletes and best practices for prevention, recognition and treatment.
Greene said it was a "long but very fruitful day," as they met with Democratic U.S. Reps. Donald Payne and Donald Norcross, and staffers for U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone. The group also met with Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia.
An independent investigation commissioned by the Board of Trustees for Garden City Community College wrapped up in September. The probe found Bradforth's death could have been prevented if the school had properly assessed the physical condition of student athletes and also developed an emergency response plan for athletes suffering heat illness.
In April 2019, Atkins-Ingram met with Pallone in Long Branch, who then wrote to the CDC requesting a briefing on efforts being taken to educate the public and prevent heat illnesses among youth athletes.
Pallone noted in his letter that "although exertional heat stroke is preventable and has a lower prevalence than other heat illnesses, it is responsible for two percent of sport-related deaths, and 15 percent of all football deaths annually."
At the state level, state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, introduced legislation in September that would require school districts and New Jersey public colleges to establish a policy to prevent and treat exertional heat illnesses in athletes for all practices, games, and athletic contests.
The bill also would have required that an independent third party investigate any student-athlete deaths related to their athletic performance.
The measure did not make it through the state Legislature before the session ended, so Gopal will reintroduce it for the new session.
Green said after filing a potential for claim against Garden City Community College, Atkins-Ingram has retained a lawyer in Kansas who is in settlement negotiations with the college's attorney.
Greene said they are considering the potential for claims against the hospital where Bradforth died and the EMS responders who treated him.
As reported by the Asbury Park Press, Bradforth’s father, Sean Bradforth, who lives in South Carolina, filed a separate notice of claim seeking $40 million from Garden City Community College.
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