Local News

Paramedic cleared in Chapel Hill player's death

Posted June 1, 2009
Updated February 6, 2010

— 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.


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  • Milkman Jun 2, 2009

    And these are the same guys who told the Orange County Vol. Rescue Squad to stand down because they felt they were unprofessional. Look in the mirror guys, the volunteer squad hasn't killed anyone.

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Jun 2, 2009

    oh because I used EMT instead of paramedic what i said now means nothing, my goodness how silly of me.

  • lilreno is in the wind Jun 2, 2009

    The cold hard fact is the guy died, I dont think there was a good reason for the medic to resign. Sounds to me like he was doing his job.

  • EyesintheSkies Jun 2, 2009

    Learn the difference between an EMT and a paramedic before posting.

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Jun 1, 2009

    Again, an EMT is not going to risk a domestic disturbance just to get someone to go to the hospital. If the parents REALLY felt like he was in danger, they would have told the boy to go to the hospital. Only when he died did the fingers start getting pointed and just because a race issue could be made out of it, they made it a point. The REAL point here is even if it was the president's daughter, if ANYONE refuses medical treatment that's IT. I'm pretty sure the paramedic would have taken him if he requested it. Why not? It's money for them to drive someone to the hospital you don't get anything for leaving without doing anything. It's just like someone that calls for chest pains and then signs a waiver to be release without going to the hospital, and then the next day they die of a heart attack, you going to blame the paramedic for that too? Or only if the victim is black and the paramedic isn't?

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jun 1, 2009

    WRAL, please post the schedule of your GOLO employees. That way we will know when we can post and not get it rejected by a few of your employees with a strong political agenda.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jun 1, 2009

    Why weren't the parents charged with child abuse? I believe the boy called his mother or father and told them he was having problems. The parents didn't come home when told of a problem. They wrote it off as one of his typical problems. So why should the paramedics be charged with anything when the parents didn't believe it was anything important enough to come home?

  • beachboater Jun 1, 2009

    It really does sound like the medical director pulled the trigger a little bit quick. I don't think the autopsy came up with a definitive cause of death.

    Still a tragedy when someone so young dies.

  • KevinUNC97 Jun 1, 2009

    Look at the outpouring of sympathy on this board (sarcasm). Well according to most people on this board Atlas deserved to die, as was the opinion of the negligent EMT. Case closed....right?

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Jun 1, 2009

    you can't force someone to go to the hospital, and it's only a major case because the guy is black.