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Family questions 911 response in son's death

Posted August 13, 2008
Updated August 14, 2008

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— Orange County Emergency Medical Services officials are reviewing how a 911 call was handled in the death of a Chapel Hill High School football player.

Atlas Fraley, 17, of 202 Fan Branch Lane in Chapel Hill, died Tuesday. Fraley’s family told WRAL News on Wednesday that they believe the teen died of an asthma attack. Authorities have not released an official cause of death, but police said that there were no signs of foul play and that the death did not appear to be suspicious.

EMS officials said Wednesday evening that they are still gathering information about the 911 call to ensure procedures were followed. However, officials confirmed a 911 call was placed from Fraley's home and that paramedics responded, then left without transporting the teen.

"They just left him there by himself. He is just a child,” father David Fraley said.

After participating in a scrimmage Tuesday morning at Middle Creek High School in Apex, Atlas complained of a headache, relatives said. His parents were not home when Fraley died.

"I am really hurt now. Like I said, there was a lot of sadness. But I have a lot of, I have some anger with me now,” David Fraley said.

Fraley’s body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for further examination.

Chapel Hill police aren't investigating the case, Lt. Kevin Gunter said.

Fraley's funeral is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Chapel Hill Bible Church, 260 Erwin Road.

“He was like my little brother. I know his dream was to grow up and probably play professional football – his dream. I’m living out his dream. Every time I go out on that field, he’s going to be with me in some form or fashion,” Detroit Lion’s defensive back Dovonte Edwards, Fraley’s cousin, said.

Fraley was entering his senior year at Chapel Hill High. He attended the school for three years and had been a student at McDougle Middle School before, according to a press release issued by Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Wednesday.

Fraley was listed at 6-foot-1 and 254 pounds, according to football recruiting Web sites. A high school online roster dated 2007 put him at 6-2. He recorded a 5.0-second time for the 40-yard dash.

His college prospects included Georgia Tech, Louisville, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Hampton and Howard, according to Rivals.com.

His mother is the cheerleading coach at Chapel Hill.

Guidance counselors were available at Chapel Hill High to help students and staff cope with the loss, according to an announcement sent to the school community by Principal Jacqueline Ellis. Counselors were also at Carrboro High School, where many students now attend after redistricting moved them from Chapel Hill High School.

Classes resume the week after next.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Fraley family during this most difficult time. Our staff stands ready to support the students and families who knew and loved Atlas,” Superintendent Neil Pedersen said in a statement.

Practice and a planned scrimmage against Cedar Ridge High School were both canceled Wednesday.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • elberry08 Aug 18, 2008

    This is terrible tragedy, but it's amazing to me how the parents, media, and the public is not leading a public outcry over how the school handled this.

    "Fraley had played in a scrimmage against Middle Creek High School in Apex on Tuesday morning. During the game, he complained of a headache and coaches took him out until he felt better. The headache returned, and they took him out for good."

    He was taken out twice because of a headache. Why wasn't he taken care or looked at by the trainer?

    All high school sports have a trainer, especially football whenever they practice, scrimmage, etc. My question is how come the media and people who are blaming solely the EMT response, let the coaches, trainers, and school out of blame.

    How was he able to leave the school if he was still feeling bad? This is such a terrible tragedy because it should have been easily avoided beginning with the school's re

  • ladyblue Aug 14, 2008

    EMS personnel better hope the documented, documented and documented again!
    EMS Is My Life

    Very well stated in your comment . Especially the documenting part.

  • ghostwriter Aug 14, 2008

    Sounds like a classic case of dehydration and Kidney failure, and shock.

    Cause of this is if you're an average adult, every day you lose more than 10 cups (close to 2.5 liters) of water simply by sweating, breathing and eliminating waste. You also lose electrolytes — minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in your body. Normally, you can replenish what you've lost through the foods and liquids you consume, even when you're active.

    But when you eliminate more water and salts than you replace, dehydration results your system literally dries out. Sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons: You don't drink enough because you're sick or busy, or because you lack access to potable water when you're playing sports.

    Anyone who plays sports can become very dehydrated, especially in hot, humid conditions and are concered high Risk victims to dehyrdation and can lead to death.

    So Drink Water When you are EXCERISING or playing SPORTS.

  • kgknox Aug 14, 2008

    I am very close with Atlas's mother and for all of those questioning his parents not being there I would just like to say that I have NEVER met a woman more involved in her child's life than his mother. She coaches cheerleading just to be able to spend more time with him. You walk into her office and his name is spelled accross her wall with his football pictures, family pictures ect. His name was mentioned EVERY day I saw her and she is truly going through the most unimaginable pain anyone could go through. This is her only child, if she could have been there she would have, I know. Granted something might could have been done through medical services, but he is now in a better place and his family should be left alone to have time to grieve.

  • Shaking My Head In Amusement Aug 14, 2008

    I saw a comment on here earlier from someone who was an EMS worker saying the minimum age was 18 (You were incorrect buddy)!!
    I don't think he was referring to OCEMS protocols. I think he was stating in general that under 18 is considered a minor. It could be a case that OCEMS talked to the parents from the scene and stated their findings and the parents said they would come take him to the Dr or Hospital. Our protocols say under age 16 has to have a parental consent to not transport and under 6mos of age gets transported no matter the complaint. The parents may have consented to no-transport and are not feeling guilt/anger for not transporting him or feeling the Medic Unit did not give an accurate assessment. Nobody knows the full story. And remember Orange Co is pretty much BLS trucks with a Medic on a QRV to check in as needed. We need to wait for the reports to hear the full story. EMS personnel better hope the documented, documented and documented again!

  • iron fist Aug 14, 2008

    amvaugha you are so right
    very sad about this young man and his family

  • lauren67 Aug 14, 2008

    Orange County's EMS protocols don't include a minimum age for allowing patients to refuse treatment...(This is in another article here on WRAL)
    I saw a comment on here earlier from someone who was an EMS worker saying the minimum age was 18 (You were incorrect buddy)!!

  • Tarheel born Aug 14, 2008

    My condolences to the family. Let's hope the ME in Chapel Hill can provide the answers this family needs to be at peace.

  • Common Sense Man Aug 14, 2008

    "Why did his family leave him alone at home if they just called 911 for him?"

    You evidently didn't read the article.

    As far as the other comments, there just isn't enough info at this point to pass judgment on anyone or if procedures were followed.

  • Seeminglyopposed Aug 14, 2008

    For one a simple headache I would not think would make a person call EMS. My son just started playing and he said that a lot of the boys complain of headaches after practice. It had to be very severe for this young man to make the call. A simple headache could lead to a blood vessel in the brain getting ready to burst...so many factors, so little time.