ATLANTA - The parents of two high school football players who died after collapsing during practice drills in the heat last summer said Tuesday that negligence led to their sons' deaths and announced plans to sue school or county officials.
Attorney Ben Crump said he sent a letter Monday on behalf of the parents of D.J. Searcy to county commissioners in Ben Hill County, Ga., notifying them of the parents' intent to sue. Crump said he also sent a similar letter on behalf of the mother of Isaiah Laurencin to the Broward County School Board in Florida. Both teens died within hours of collapsing during football drills in hot weather.
A Broward County Schools spokeswoman and the chair of the school board did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The chairman of the Ben Hill County board of commissioners also did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
"It's been a year and they haven't gotten any answers, unfortunately," Crump said Tuesday. High school football players are starting their practices again now and are doing two practices a day in hot weather, and proper precautions haven't been put in place, he added.
Searcy, a 16-year-old defensive lineman at Fitzgerald High School, told coaches he couldn't continue after falling to the ground Aug. 2, 2011, during practice at a football camp in Columbia County, Fla. He was told to keep going, Crump said. Searcy had demonstrated symptoms of dehydration and had been found unconscious in his cabin the night before, and coaches didn't request medical help and still required him to show up to practice the next day, Crump said.
"He had such high aspirations and we had such high aspirations for him that a loss like this feels like someone stole something from us," Carlton Searcy said of his son's death.
Laurencin, a 16-year-old offensive lineman, was participating in conditioning drills at Miramar High School on July 26, 2011, when he collapsed. He died hours later from heat exhaustion, Crump's letter to the school board said. The high school's employees, coaches and personnel were negligently hired, trained and supervised and failed to use proper policies or procedures to address heat-related illness, the letter said. Laurencin had been hospitalized a week for heat exhaustion a year before his death.
"I need some answers as to what happened and why," Laurencin's mother Angela Cooper said. "They need to put safety first and not just look at winning."
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