Two basketball coaches in Georgia face murder charges after a 16-year-old female player died due to heatstroke following an outdoor practice in extreme heat.

According to NBC News, a grand jury from Clayton County recently returned an indictment, charging Larosa Maria Walker-Asekere and Dwight Broom Palmer with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree child cruelty, and reckless conduct.

The charges were related to the August 2019 death of Imani Bell, who was a student of the Elite Scholars Academy.

Georgia Teen Died After Working Out in The Extreme Heat

Imani Bell, 16, died after taking part in outdoor basketball conditioning with other girls of the team in temperatures that reached the high 90s.

Larosa Maria Walker-Asekere was the head coach of the girls' basketball team, and Dwight Broom Palmer was the assistant. According to Bell's attorney Justin Miller, both of the coaches were present at the practice that time and had been in charge of the students.

During a press conference on Wednesday, the Bell family and their attorneys thanked the district attorney for bringing the set of charges. Miller noted that the incident in question did not have to happen.

Another attorney of the Bell family, Chris Stewart, said there was a heat advisory the day the practice was held. The advisory warned that all outdoor activities should be limited because of the heat.

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The Bell Family's Lawsuit

In February, the Bell family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school administrators. The lawsuit said the girls' basketball team was doing a conditioning drill when Imani Bell collapsed after running up the football stadium steps.

According to the suit, the high school junior started experiencing early signs of heat illness. It said the Georgia teen was visibly struggling to perform the outdoor conditioning drills. The suit alleged that despite this, Bell was told to continue practicing.

Court documents showed that the Georgia teen was quickly taken to a hospital. However, she died later that day from heat-related cardiac arrest and kidney failure.

An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found that Bell's death was attributable to heatstroke that was caused by strenuous physical activity in extreme heat.

The attorneys blamed the defendants for not considering the weather. They also said that the coaches did not follow the protocols outlined by the Georgia High School Association that oversees the state's athletics.

Online policies by the association noted that outdoor practices should not be held if a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) reading is higher than 92. 

The WBGT is different from the heat index because it takes into account temperature, humidity, sun angle, cloud cover, and wind speed. The WBGT reading must be checked 30 minutes before an outdoor practice and every hour during the training duration.

On Wednesday's press conference, Imani Bell's father, Eric Bell, who was also a coach at a nearby school, said that he had canceled his practice that day because the WBGT reading was too high.

The lawsuit noted that the two basketball coaches had failed to check the WBGT reading on the day of Bell's practice. 

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This article is owned by Latin Post

Written by: Jess Smith

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