WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky university has agreed to a settlement of more than $14 million over the death of a student wrestler during practice, the institution said in a statement.
The settlement reached Wednesday over the death of 20-year-old Grant Brace of Louisville, Tennessee, includes an agreement for the University of the Cumberlands to participate in a heat-illness training program and to help raise awareness of heat-related injuries, news outlets reported, citing a statement from the university.
Brace’s death on August 31, 2020 from heat stroke after he begged for water and was refused “was tragic and entirely avoidable,” the lawsuit said.
Brace was diagnosed with narcolepsy and ADHD and was prescribed Adderall which requires maintaining hydration, according to the lawsuit.
He died during the wrestling team’s first training day of the season. After practice, the team had to sprint multiple times up and down a steep hill and Brace completed several before sitting down from exhaustion. The coach threatened to kick Brace off the wrestling team, so he ran up the hill again and was later heard saying “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore,” the lawsuit said.
He begged for water and his condition continued to deteriorate, but the coaches didn’t provide water or contact the trainer or emergency medical personnel, according to the lawsuit. Brace left and tried to drink from an outdoor water fountain that was not working. He also tried to get into a building but could not, and he collapsed. About 45 minutes later, the coaches found him dead with his hands clenched in the grass and dirt, according to the suit.
The university said in a statement that it believed it could defend the claims asserted in the lawsuit, but “the legal process would have been long, difficult, and costly, ending years from now in a trial with an uncertain outcome.”
It said the safety of students and athletes is a top priority and it “welcomes the opportunity to work with the Brace family’s consultant to ensure it is providing the safest environment possible for student-athletes in all sports.”