WASHINGTON, DC — All 12 members of New Jersey’s House delegation are asking for an outside investigation into a former Neptune High School football player’s death shortly after a practice at Garden City Community College in Kansas.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th District) is leading the bipartisan effort to find out the circumstances surrounding how 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth died of heat stroke shortly after he was taken to the hospital on August 1 — the second day upon arriving at the junior college, which had awarded him a scholarship.

Bradforth’s mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, has tried to obtain basic information from the college about her son’s death, but the school has not provided it to her, nor have college officials met with her in person, according to a release by Smith's office. The school claims it conducted an internal review of Bradforth’s death, but has not shared the review with Bradforth’s mother, rather providing her with only an insufficient summary of details, it continued.

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 “On behalf of Braeden’s surviving family members and friends from our state, the New Jersey delegation joins in the request for an external, independent investigation into this tragedy,” the members stated a letter to GCCC President Ryan Ruda.

“Our New Jersey community mourns Braeden’s untimely death and there are significant unanswered questions. An external, independent investigation offers the only way to assure transparency for investigating the past while looking ahead to prevent future tragedies,” the letter said.

Smith met with Atkins-Ingram and subsequently wrote Ruda on March 22, requesting an external independent investigation into Bradforth’s death. Such an investigation should include a review of the school’s policies and protocols for athlete health and safety and its emergency action plan, and whether or not those policies were followed the night of Bradforth’s death.

Smith also personally requested that Ruda meet in person with Atkins-Ingram and share the school’s entire internal review with her, in a phone call with the president. Although the college initially agreed to the meeting, a lawyer for the college later determined that the internal review would not be discussed at the meeting. The meeting was subsequently postponed.

“We want a meeting between Ruda and Ms. Atkins-Ingram to take place, but for that to happen there must be complete transparency by the school where she can receive answers to all her questions about her son’s death,” said Smith, whose district represents Belmar and Lake Como. “It is astonishing to me that nearly nine months after Braeden’s death, Joanne has not been informed of what exactly happened to her son on the night of August 1.”

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