Probe finds no fault in student's death

Staff WriterJune 24, 2009 

— Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools found no evidence of carelessness or foul play following the death of a Chapel Hill High School football player in August, according to a report made public Tuesday.

The report sheds little light on the cause of Atlas Fraley's death but does provide details about the football-related events that preceded it. The school board released the findings after an internal investigation by the school district's attorneys.

An autopsy report for Fraley released in March was inconclusive; it suggested that dehydration and cramping may have led to a fatal heart attack.

According to the school district's report, Fraley spent the morning of his death, Aug. 12, beginning at 9:15 a.m. at Middle Creek High School in Apex participating in two one-hour scrimmages against other area football teams.

Near the end of the second scrimmage, Fraley reported having a headache after a collision with another player. The team's athletic trainer examined him and concluded that he did not display signs of a concussion.

The format of the scrimmage included several water breaks, according to the report. Weather conditions in Apex that morning were mild, with temperatures reaching the mid-80s.

After the second scrimmage, the report said, "the football coach" observed that his athletes "appeared tired" and canceled a third scrimmage. While players walked toward their buses, Fraley asked head football coach Issac Marsh for money to buy a Gatorade, which the coach provided.

During the bus ride back to Chapel Hill High, Fraley mentioned having a cramp and stood up for part of the ride. But he was said to be in good spirits and joked with players in the locker room after the team's return between noon and 1 p.m.

Before heading home, Fraley mentioned possible cramping and was advised to drink fluids and stretch, though the report does not say who Fraley spoke with. He went home in a car accompanied by a teammate.

At 1:45 p.m. Fraley called 911 complaining of dehydration. He spent 22 minutes with paramedic James Griffin, who left the teenager with water and Gatorade. Fraley died within hours. Griffin resigned 15 days later after state EMS officials found that he violated Orange County protocols in his response to Fraley.

In a previous interview with The News & Observer, Fraley's teammates Antonio Rone and Rodney Torain said they were both concerned about Fraley's health after practice. Torain died in a hit-and-run accident last fall.

Because of privacy laws, the school district's report did not include names of students and personnel who contributed to the report.

sadia.latifi@newsobserver.com or 919-932-2002

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