A lawsuit has been filed against the Rankin County School District following the August 2022 death of a Brandon High School football player.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump on Wednesday announced that he filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of Phillip and Ashanta Laster — the parents of Trey Laster, who died from heat exhaustion during football practice.
According to the complaint, the student-athlete’s death occurred during the hottest part of the day with a heat index of 103 degrees. As soon as the 17-year-old arrived to participate in his first football practice of the season, his coaches are said to have made him do wind sprints.
While he was running, Trey allegedly began exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion including stumbling and becoming dizzy and nauseous. Ultimately, as detailed in the complaint, Trey vomited and then passed out due to the extreme conditions and his coaches’ failure to properly adjust the training to the environment and his high-risk factors.
Due to it being the first day of practice, the players had not gone through a proper two-week acclimatization to the heat as required by school and athletic association guidelines, the complaint asserts. Trey, who stood at 6-foot-1 and weighed 328 pounds, was at higher risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
When Trey passed out, the complaint says, the school did not have any exertional heat stroke (EHS) preventive measures on the field and did not begin implementing any common prevention procedures.
School district employees are said to have placed Trey in the back of a pickup truck, which only increased his body heat. Inadequate heat prevention and response ultimately led to Trey passing away shortly thereafter, Crump suggests.
“No child should ever be in danger of losing their life in pursuit of a passion, especially under the supervision and instruction of adults who should know when to stop pushing these young athletes,” Crump said. “Trey’s tragic death could have been, and should have been, prevented by those in charge, and shows a troubling lack of adherence to guidelines surrounding heat exhaustion prevention.”
Just days before Trey’s death, the Mississippi High School Activities Association and the National Federation of High Schools, of which the Rankin County School District is a member, provided numerous warnings of EHS, identified the risks to lower the chances of EHS, and provided specific instructions on the type of preventive measures that are best to be present at each practice and sporting event, according to the complaint.
A copy of the full complaint can be found here.