"We know some details surrounding Braeden’s death, but truthfully, we do not know enough."
— Vin Gopal, New Jersey lawmaker
That statement succinctly sums up the issue following the death of Braeden Bradforth on Aug. 1. Bradforth, of New Jersey, had arrived in Kansas just 48 hours earlier to begin playing college football at Garden City Community College.
We are calling upon GCCC officials to release the results of its own internal review into just what happened during and after the football practice that preceded Bradforth's death. And because Jeff Sims — then the coach at Garden City — is now the coach at Missouri Southern State University, we also think a full accounting is warranted for Southwest Missouri.
We know that Bradforth died after the second practice of the day, and the cause of death has been ruled exertional heat stroke. But much beyond that, players and the public have been left in murk of many public allegations, including that the drill that day was excessive, and that water was withheld during practice.
Johnny Jean, a safety from Florida, who said he witnessed a disoriented Bradforth during practice, told a Kansas radio station: "I ain’t never been at practice when they said we couldn’t get water. During the whole summer, we weren’t allowed to get water during practice then we started drinking water during fall camp when you start playing games.”
Gopal, in his letter to the Kansas attorney general's office asking for it to open an independent investigation, alleges, "His (Bradforth's) time was cut short by what may have been carelessness and a callous disregard for safety by those who were entrusted to care for him. ... We since have learned that immediately before his death, Braeden was put through a grueling conditioning 'test.' Despite the fact that the conditioning 'test' involved thirty-six (36) 50-yard dashes in a row, each in under eight (8) seconds, in the heat of August, the Garden City Community College coaching staff failed to have available the necessary medical equipment to deal with possible heat stroke. Exertional heat stroke should never be fatal. Had appropriate measures been taken to treat him, Braeden’s death may have been entirely preventable."
Regrettably, the Kansas attorney general has said he does not have authority to intervene, which leaves the GCCC internal review as the only report so far of what happened.
The Globe has asked for the internal review, but has been denied.
Other media in Kansas have asked for it, but been denied.
Bradforth's family has asked for it, but been denied.
It has been seven months since Braeden died.
Answers are needed.