Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith (R) has announced that in response to his request, Garden City Community College (GCCC) President Ryan Ruda said he will meet with the mother of Braeden Bradforth, Joanne-Atkins Ingram.

This meeting between Ruda and Atkins-Ingram comes after an eight-month ordeal for Braeden’s family to obtain answers about his death at the college.

“After eight months of seeking answers about her son’s death, it is long-past time for Joanne to speak directly with the President of GCCC and the staff,” Smith said.

In a phone conversation this week, Ruda told Smith that he would be willing to meet with Joanne Atkins-Ingram in person.

“Joanne deserves to know what happened to her son, and it is my sincere hope that this meeting will be the first of many steps taken by the school in the name of transparency,” Smith said.

Bradforth, a 19 year-old from Neptune who played in the Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic last summer received a scholarship in July of 2018 to play football at GCCC.

On August 1, 2018, his second day on campus, he collapsed after evening football practice and was found unresponsive.

After being taken to the hospital in an ambulance, he passed away just hours later due to “exertional heat stroke,” his autopsy later revealed.

GCCC Head coach Jeff Sims told the Garden City Telegram that the defensive linesman was found "medically distressed" in his dorm room after a team meeting.

After calling for a team trainer to help Bradforth, an ambulance took him to a hospital where he died about 11:30 p.m.

Coach Sims told the Witchita Eagle that an emergency room physician told him that Bradforth was probably unaware of an existing medical condition that had caused a blood clot that reached his heart.

The college later conducted an internal review of Braeden’s death, but the family never received the results of the review and to date, there has been no independent investigation into Bradforth’s death.

According to his mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, several of Braeden’s teammates said he was noticeably struggling to complete the football workout.

During Thursday’s conversation with President Ruda, Smith urged him to share with Braeden’s family the entire results from the school’s internal review of the incident, and to commission an external, independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

“What happened during that fateful day? We still don’t know,” Smith said. “Think of what it’s like to not have this information, waking up in the middle of the night not knowing what happened to your beloved son—it is unconscionable. I repeat my request for the school to make the internal review available in its entirety to Joanne, to throw open the door to transparency and make sure that every single solitary fact is on the table.”

“Sharing the results of the internal review is a good step—but only a first step. Initiating an immediate, thorough independent investigation into Braeden’s death is necessary to provide closure for his family, and to help protect against any tragedies like this one from occurring in the future,” Smith said.

Smith joined Joanne Atkins-Ingram at a community meeting on Thursday in Asbury Park surrounded by local residents who were supportive of Braeden’s family.

At the event, Smith also revealed that he would be working on legislation to start a commission that would review the causes of exertional heat stroke among athletes, and to determine the national scope of the problem.

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