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Parents sue over Slippery Rock student's death following basketball practice

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By Adam Brandolph
Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, 6:06 p.m.

The parents of a Slippery Rock University student who died following a late-night practice with the basketball team filed a wrongful lawsuit Friday against the school, its health center and the NCAA.

Jack Hill Sr. and Cheryl Hill of Roselle, N.J., filed the lawsuit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on behalf of their son, Jack Hill Jr., 21, who died on Sept. 10, 2011, from sickle cell trait.

According to the lawsuit, Hill was a 6-foot senior who had never been tested for sickle cell anemia or sickle cell trait. He had participated in two workouts on Sept. 9 and asked to be excused from portions of a third workout, but his request was denied.

Hill and his teammates were doing “extreme, high intensity conditioning and weight lifting drills” when Hill had a “spell” and collapsed twice, the lawsuit says.

“Instead of being provided the immediate medical attention he needed, Jack was left lying in the middle of the wrestling room by coaches and trainers while the remainder of the team helplessly stood by and watched, waiting for medical assistance to arrive,” according to the lawsuit.

Hill died at Grove City Medical Center.

The coroner determined Hill died after a sustained period of highly intense physical exertion. An autopsy discovered marked red blood cell sickling in his lungs and liver, the lawsuit says.

The Hills claim the university and its health center were negligent for failing to adequately evaluate their son for sickle cell trait before allowing him to participate in athletics; failing to properly monitor and train staff during emergency situations; and failing to have all staff properly trained on first aid.

Bob McComas, a spokesman for the Slippery Rock University Athletic Department, declined to comment, citing school policy.

Athletic Director Paul Lueken and head men's basketball coach Kevin Reynolds could not be reached.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached 412-391-0927

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