SARALAND, Ala (WALA) — A local high school wrestling coach has been named in a civil suit concerning the death of a wrestler at his previous school.
There are a lot of allegations in the complaint. Multiple people are being sued, including a man who is now a Saraland High School wrestling coach.
The civil lawsuit filed this week comes after the death of a college wrestler last August in Kentucky.
“Tragically we believe it was very much avoidable,” said Brian Vines, Attorney from Hare; Wynn Law Firm.
Brace’s family filing a lawsuit on Monday. They are suing the University of the Cumberlands, several university officials, and the wrestling coaching staff.
The lawsuit alleges that Brace, a member of the wrestling team, was put through a rough workout in August 2020. It says coaches did not respond to signs of heat stroke or provide water.
The lawsuit says Brace said “I need water, somebody help me,” and “I feel like I’m going to die, I feel like my head is going to explode.”
“For Grant it wasn’t as simple as just getting the water. As we laid out in the complaint he was out of his mind which is a very common sign of a heat stroke,” Vines said.
The complaint alleges that no medical aid was provided.
After returning to the wrestling room, Brace was ordered by coaches to “get out.”
Brace left the building in search of water and was later found dead on campus.
One of the defendants named in the suit is Jordan Countryman who just started working at Saraland High School as a wrestling coach.
“Our key concern with Coach Countryman was the culture of the wrestling program, we’re concerned about the administration allowing that culture to develop and continue,” Vines said.
The lawsuit says Brace suffered from narcolepsy and ADHD and was on medication that required extra hydration.
The suit alleges that the coaches ignored the promised accommodations.
“Not only did they know him, he had specific health conditions that required specific attention to hydration because of some medicine he was on, the coaches knew about that,” Vines said.
The University of the Cumberlands called the loss of Brace tragic, but said in a statement: “University of the Cumberlands received notice of the lawsuit filed by the attorneys for Grant Brace’s family. 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.”
Saraland City Schools says they were not aware of the allegations before the lawsuit was filed this week, but the superintendent said in a statement: “Saraland City Schools prioritizes safety in all endeavors both in and out of the classroom. Every employment decision made in Saraland City Schools is solely based on my recommendation as the superintendent and follows a vetting process that includes criminal background clearance through the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) working in partnership with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Recognizing the sensitivity of the claims and respecting those personally involved, I will continue to monitor the Kentucky case and respond as facts pertinent to the operation of Saraland City Schools are communicated by the legal authorities directly connected to the Kentucky lawsuit.
We reached out to Countryman, but he told FOX10 News Reporter Tyler Fingert via text that he did not want to talk about the lawsuit.
We also reached out to the Williamsburg, Kentucky Police Department. Investigators say a criminal investigation continues.