Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith (R - Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer Counties) has been leading the charge for answers in the death of a Neptune High School football graduate.

The search for answers surrounding the death of Braeden Bradforth has lingered since his passing last summer on his second day on the campus of Garden City Community College in Kansas from a heat stroke following football practice.

Congressman Smith who has worked with Braeden's mother in pursuing the case now has the other 11 members of the New Jersey Delegation on board in imploring the school president to authorize an external, independent investigation into what happened to Braeden.

All 12 House Members of the NJ Delegation are asking President Ryan Ruda to authorize such an investigation into the death of Bradforth.

Congressman Smith led the efforts in sending a letter to President Ruda along with the NJ Members stating that “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.”

“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 continued.

Bradforth was a 19 year-old football player from Neptune who received a football scholarship to GCCC in June of 2018.

On his second day on campus, August 1, Bradforth was taken to the hospital after evening football practice and but sadly passed away a short time later.

An autopsy later determined his cause of death to be exertional heat stroke.

Braeden’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.

The school  said it conducted an internal review of Braeden’s death, but has not shared that review with Braeden’s mother and have instead only given her an "insufficient summary of details.“

"We want a meeting between President 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,” Smith said. “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.”

Congressman Smith met with Joanne-Atkins Ingram and subsequently wrote President Ruda on March 22, requesting an external independent investigation into Braeden’s death.

Smith said 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 Braeden’s death.

He also personally requested that President Ruda meet in person with Joanne 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 then postponed and it's unclear as of today whether a meeting between President Ruda and Joanne Atkins-Ingram will take place but that's in part what Congressman Smith and the other delegates are pushing for.

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