Paramedic cleared in Chapel Hill player's death
Posted June 1, 2009
Updated February 6, 2010
Raleigh, N.C. — The family of a Chapel Hill High School football player who died in August 2008 has filed a wrongful death suit against the paramedic who treated him, Orange County Emergency Services and Orange County, the family lawyer said Saturday.
An Orange County paramedic has been cleared of wrongdoing in his treatment last August of a Chapel Hill High School football player who later died.
The state Office of Emergency Medical Services plans no action against the paramedic credentials of James Griffin, according to a report released Monday.
Atlas 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.
Don Strickland, an attorney for Fraley's family, said the state report doesn't exonerate Griffin and specifically notes that he violated protocols. He declined to comment Monday on whether the family would file a lawsuit over the teen's death.
Orange County Emergency Services officials had cited personnel and medical privacy regulations in declining to release details of their internal investigation of the case. The 65-page state report includes some of that information, including the fact a fourth-year medical student was with Griffin when he treated Fraley.
Dr. Jane Brice, medical director of Orange County Emergency Services, determined that Griffin had violated protocols in his treatment of Fraley, according to the state report, so she terminated his paramedic privileges in the county on Aug. 22.
Griffin resigned from Orange County Emergency Services five days later after almost nine years with the agency.
Fraley called 911 from his house shortly before 2 p.m. Aug. 12, complaining of muscle cramps and dehydration and asking paramedics to provide him with intravenous fluids.
Griffin went to Fraley's house and found the teen's pulse and blood pressure to be normal, according to an Orange County Emergency Services patient report.
Griffin wrote in the report that Fraley wouldn't sit still for a heart monitor reading, so he advised him to keep drinking fluids. He noted several empty water bottles on a counter and wrote that Fraley said he had plenty of water and Gatorade on hand.
Griffin wrote that he tried to call Fraley's parents and, when he couldn't reach them, allowed Fraley to sign a discharge form.
It wasn't stated on the form if Fraley refused to be taken to a hospital.
Medical examiners were unable to find a definite cause of death, but they said Fraley had a history of cramping and similar symptoms, which could have combined with dehydration to result in a "fatal cardiac event or even an acute asthmatic attack," according to an autopsy report.