Rolesville (N.C.) junior football player Isaiah Langston died in 2014 after suffering a head injury during practice. Photo: Facebook
By: Tim Whelan Jr., USA TODAY High School Sports | May 23, 2017
The family of a North Carolina football player who died after sustaining a head injury in practice is suing the school system and members of the school’s athletic staff.
Rolesville (N.C) junior Isaiah Langston, 17, died Sept. 29, 2014, from a stroke that a state medical examiner’s report said was caused by a head injury suffered five days before in football practice. According to the lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court and obtained by The News & Observer, Langston’s family accuses the school of not following the state’s concussion protocol and of not acting after the teen complained of headaches prior to his collapse before a football game two days later.
“The aforesaid injuries, death and damages sustained by Isaiah Langston were directly and proximately caused by the careless, negligent, grossly negligent, reckless, and willful and/or wantonly actions of the Defendants,” the family says in the lawsuit filed in August and obtained by The News & Observer.
Under state law, per the News & Observer, student-athletes in North Carolina who display symptoms of a concussion must be cleared by a medical doctor or licensed athletic trainer before returning to practice.
In its response to the lawsuit, school officials acknowledge Langston wasn’t cleared to play by any doctor and didn’t participate in the concussion protocol. School attorneys deny, however, that school employees knew that Langston had suffered a concussion or that he had complained of headaches prior to his collapse.
“Isaiah Langston was negligent in one or more respects and failed to exercise the proper care which prudent persons under the same or similar circumstances would have exercised,” the district writes in its legal response, per The News & Observer.
Langston was hit in the back of the head during football practice Sept. 24, 2014, and had a headache for two days, per the report by medical examiner Dr. Andrew Rand. The 17-year-old was then “held out” of practice during those two days, according to Rand.
In the pregame warm-ups Sept. 26, 2014, Langston collapsed and was taken to the hospital. He died three days later.
Per The News & Observer, in addition to suing the school system, the lawsuit names as defendants Rolesville athletic director Tommy Moore; Jermaine Evans, the head football coach at the time; Anthony McKoy, an assistant football coach; and Brad Farrell, the school’s head athletic trainer at the time.
A jury trial requested by the family could begin as soon as Nov. 13.
Isaiah Langston, a football player at Rolesville (N.C.) High School, died of a hit to the back of the head, according to the autopsy as reported by WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham.
The medical examiner listed the official cause of death as “complications of vertebral artery dissection due to blunt force injury of the head and neck.”
The 17-year-old died days after collapsing in warmups before a Sept. 26 game. At the time, eyewitnesses told HighSchoolOT that the linebacker apparently gave no signs that he was feeling ill or under the weather in any way prior to his collapse. He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital where he died three days later.
The report said Langston had a “large posterior circulation stroke … which most likely occurred secondary to verbal dissection,” the report said.
After Langston died, his brother told WTVD-TV that the collapse was related to a blood lot in Isaiah’s brain.
Langston is among nine high school football players whose death occurred after a player collapsed at a football game or practice
The nine player deaths is the most player deaths that may be directly related to football in a single season since 11 in 1986, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which annually analyzes football deaths. The number is a stark statistic that underlines the growing concern shown by parents about the safety of youth football at various levels.
Langston was remembered in the aftermath of his death at the team’s next game with a moment of silence and balloons being released into the sky as his family looked on.