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Autopsy: Chapel Hill football player's death unexplained

Posted March 18, 2009

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— Medical examiners were unable to find a definite cause of death of Atlas Fraley, a Chapel Hill High School football player who died in August several hours after after participating in a scrimmage, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday.

A history of cramping and similar symptoms, along with possibly being dehydrated, could have resulted in a "fatal cardiac event or even an acute asthmatic attack," the autopsy report said.

Atlas Fraley, Chapel Hill High football player who died Player's death remains a mystery

"No definite explanation for this young man's death is evident at autopsy," the report states. "The history of a prior cramping episode and that similar symptoms have occurred in relatives raises the possibility of an inherited disorder of metabolism affecting muscle function ... It may be that there are multiple factors involved."

Fraley, 17, was a senior offensive guard and defensive tackle for Chapel Hill High who participated in an Aug. 12 scrimmage at Middle Creek High in Apex. His parents found him unresponsive in their home that evening.

Fraley had called 911 from his house shortly before 2 p.m. that day, complaining of muscle cramps and dehydration and asking paramedics to provide him with intravenous fluids.

He wasn't taken to a hospital. It remains unclear whether he refused to be taken to one or paramedics thought he was well enough to stay at home alone.

The autopsy report states the paramedic who responded felt Fraley was stable and, before he left, told the player to drink fluids.

Orange County Emergency Services officials issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying they "deeply regret" Fraley's death, but they cited personnel and medical privacy regulations in declining to release details of an internal investigation of the case.

Donald Strickland, an attorney for the Fraley family, said the autopsy report doesn't address whether paramedics should have taken the teen to a hospital or whether he had a better chance of surviving in a hospital than at home.

"(The) report simply states that Atlas died from natural causes, but does not shed any light on whether Atlas would have survived if he had been taken to the hospital rather than being left home alone by the paramedic that responded to the 911 call," Strickland said in a statement. "Now that the autopsy report is complete, we will continue our investigation into the tragic death of this fine young man."

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools also is investigating his death to determine whether school personnel could have done something differently the day Fraley died. Ken Soo, an attorney for the school district, said officials were awaiting the autopsy report to complete their review and expect to submit their findings to the school board in the next week or two.

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  • DaddysAngel27 Mar 19, 2009

    Just an opinion. Have you ever thought about the possibility of his family having EKG's done and tested for a rare heart disease called "long QT Syndrome". I have it and it causes low potassium and/or sodium in return causes severe leg cramps and easy dehydration and also leads to fatal arrhythmias and SCD "Sudden Cardiac Death?" I have it and have fought SCD and now have a pacemaker w/ defibrillator which has saved my life. So, you I have been through the leg cramps and also fainting episodes "syncope." Please check into this. This family needs some peace of mine. God Bless Them and their loved ones.

  • lilreno is in the wind Mar 19, 2009

    It could be possible that he died from natural causes. It was just his time to go.

  • nufsaid Mar 18, 2009

    "I dont understand the medical lingo. How can an "acute" asthmatic attack cause death?
    Does anyone know the levels of an asthama attack?
    Tired of thoughtlessness"

    Acute means rapid onset. It doesn't measure severity. An acute asthma attack can certainly cause death.

  • CrewMax Mar 18, 2009

    Bet they take the next kid to the hospital.

  • Xiaoding Mar 18, 2009

    "Wow. I guess the investigators should have just called all of the posters on here who seem to know what happened better than the authorities. Everyone must have been there to know what was said, right? Your speculations are without merit. Before you blame EMS, you might ought to have more facts."

    You have GOT to be joking!! We don't HAVE THE FACTS, because the EMS WON'T GIVE US THE FACTS." GET IT?

    WHY THE SECRECY?

  • sst100 Mar 18, 2009

    Wow. I guess the investigators should have just called all of the posters on here who seem to know what happened better than the authorities. Everyone must have been there to know what was said, right? Your speculations are without merit. Before you blame EMS, you might ought to have more facts.

    It is quite possible to have a cause of death go unexplained. Despite what you are watching on late night TV, this happens all of the time. As a former EMT and someone who has done a fair amount of work in the forensic field, let me say that these situations are often far more complicated than they appear. EVERYONE could have done everything correctly and he still might have passed away.

  • Xiaoding Mar 18, 2009

    The time it takes for these reports to come out tells the story, EMS dropped the ball. It's a coverup.

  • SailbadTheSinner Mar 18, 2009

    “Orange County Emergency Services officials issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying they "deeply regret" Fraley's death, but they cited personnel and medical privacy regulations in declining to release details of an internal investigation of the case.”

    Once again we see the REAL reason for HIPAA.

    STS

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Mar 18, 2009

    I dont understand the medical lingo. How can an "acute" asthmatic attack cause death?

    Does anyone know the levels of an asthama attack?

  • mrduright Mar 18, 2009

    schoobydooyellow-

    Your parenting skill leave much to be desired, I guess if the house was burning down or someone was breaking in your kids would call you (please) this was a 17 year old young man who felt bad enough to call 911and thats that. Really how can you place blame on a dead man

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