Since Grant Brace was diagnosed with narcolepsy and ADHD and prescribed Adderall, he required maintaining hydration. But the coaches ignored his pleas for help, which led to his unfortunate death.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 27, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger warning: The contents of this story contain themes of death that may be disturbing for some readers.
A devastated family has filed a lawsuit against a college wrestling team, following the death of a 20-year-old student.
On August 31, 2020, Grant Brace—a student and wrestler at the University of the Cumberlands—attended his first day of classes after a break. In the evening, he had wrestling practice, led by then-head coach Jordan Countryman and assistant coach Jake Sinkovics. After practice, the team was told to sprint up and down a steep "punishment hill" seven times, according to PEOPLE.
Brace completed several circuits and then sat down due to sheer exhaustion, reports the Lexington Herald Reader. He was diagnosed with narcolepsy and ADHD and was prescribed Adderall that requires maintaining hydration.
"Ultimately, the defendants' failure to protect the student-athletes on the wrestling team resulted in the death of Grant Brace," the lawsuit said. https://t.co/hJKpPud7o1— WHAS11 News (@WHAS11) August 25, 2021
The fact that Brace was tired after a few sets prompted the head coach to threaten him, saying he'd be kicked off the team, per the lawsuit. The worn-out lad ran up the hill again and was later heard saying, “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.” A fellow athlete tried to offer Brace some water, but Countryman didn't allow him to do so.
The lawsuit stated Brace begged, “I need water, somebody help me.” He also said he felt like his pupils were rapidly moving. He said, “I feel like I am going to die, I feel like my head is going to explode” and “Please help me, you promised you would help me.”
The college had promised Brace's family that they will accommodate his medical needs in school and during wrestling practice, but neither Countryman nor Sinkovics paid heed to the boy's desperate pleas for help, nor did they contact the trainer or emergency medical personnel or give Brace water, according to the lawsuit.
Congrats to Alcoa Wrestling on a successful weekend at the state wrestling tournament. Alex Richardson finished second at 160, Grant Brace finished third at 220, Ryan Wimbley finished sixth at 126, and Noah Evans is your 195 state Champion! pic.twitter.com/nBlZEiHpmi— Alcoa High School (@ahstornadoes) February 20, 2018
Brace allegedly began to speak nonsense, including that he was going to “leave in a big parade” and “I ate a fork on Sunday.” His health also began to deteriorate, showing signs of heatstroke.
According to the lawsuit, Brace then began speaking loudly and using curse words. He also charged and tackled a fellow member of the wrestling team. The coaches screamed at Brace to get out. Eventually, he left, to go look for water. He ran to a nearby water fountain, but it wasn't working. He tried to get into the building but was unable to.
About 45 minutes after Brace left, Countryman and Sinkovics began looking for him, only to find him dead with his hands clenched in the grass and dirt, according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleges Brace’s death “was tragic and entirely avoidable," while accusing Countryman and Sinkovics of gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Students and employees at UC are grieving the passing of student-athlete, Grant Brace, who passed away unexpectedly Monday night. Brace, who hails from Louisville, Tennessee, was a junior at Cumberlands and a Patriots wrestling team member. https://t.co/w5ITOY62Fv— TheSentinel-Echo (@TheSentinelEcho) September 1, 2020
In a response to the lawsuit, the university issued a statement to WATE, writing: "Grant's death was a tragic loss for his family, his friends, the University community, and all who knew him. In the wake of this tragedy, the University has tried its best to be sympathetic and respectful to Grant's family and to ensure that all of its athletic programs, including the wrestling program, were and are being operated in a safe manner."
"The University questions several of the allegations in the complaint and does not feel that the complaint is a fair reflection of its wrestling program. Out of respect for all concerned and for the legal process, the University will not address individual allegations publicly but will instead present its defenses to the claims through the legal proceeding."
Brace joined the University of Cumberlands wrestling team as a first-year student in 2018, according to his biography on the school's athletics website.
Cover Image Source: Cumberlandspatriots.com