College wrestler died from heatstroke after being refused water

A college wrestler in Kentucky died from heatstroke after his coaches refused his desperate requests for water during practice due to his poor performance, according to a new report.

“Guys, I need water. Get me some water,” Grant Brace, 20, urged his team during the first day of wrestling conditioning at the University of the Cumberlands on Aug. 31, 2020, WKRC-TV reported Thursday.

Brace’s increasingly frantic requests were denied even as he began speaking gibberish, started twitching and said he couldn’t see, witnesses told local police in Williamsburg, Ky., the report said.

Two hours after practice, Brace was found on the ground, clutching the grass. He died of exertional heatstroke, which is completely preventable, medical officials told the outlet.

The Williamsburg Police Department reportedly interviewed more than 40 members of the wrestling team to recount the events that led to the wrestler’s death, according to the station’s ongoing investigative series.

College wrestler Grant Brace (left) died from a heatstroke after his coaches allegedly barred him from drinking water during a practice.

When the team moved their afternoon workout outside from the gym at 3 p.m., coaches told the athletes to “throw their water bottles on the fence and not touch them,” police reportedly found.

The team was tasked with running a series of sprints up “Punishment Hill,” a 200 foot slope at a 35% incline, the station said. The drills were punishment for a teammate that failed to meet his fundraising goals.

After failing to keep up, an exhausted Brace was told to “leave the hill and clean out his locker” by coaches when he took a breather, teammates reportedly said.

Brace did go back to the locker room, but soon returned and stated his desire to prove himself, the report said.

Grant Brace, a wrestler at the University of the Cumberlands.
Medical officials argued Brace’s death was easily preventable.
University of Cumberland Athletics
Grant Brace is seen deadlifting.
Wrestling coaches are accused of stopping teammates from aiding Brace when he begged for water.

“Some witnesses describe a lot of verbal abuse by the coaches and even teammates as Grant continued to attempt sprints up the hill,” Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird reportedly said.

“Witnesses describe a short team meeting on the hill after the sprints when Grant was holding on to a small tree limb, swaying back and forth, saying, ‘I can’t stand.’”

After the practice, Brace reportedly laid on a mat in the gym and begged for hydration.

Grant Brace with his mother.
Brace’s condition continued to worsen without water, witnesses said.

When a teammate began to wrap ice in a towel to cool Brace off, a coach intervened, citing Brace’s poor sprinting performance, the report said.

“At one point witnesses state Grant opened a cooler full of ice that was provided by the trainer and began to immerse himself in the ice and began splashing ice on his body,” Bird told the outlet.

As he begged the team for a drink, witnesses say his physical condition began to visibly deteriorate to the point where his eyes were twitching.

Grant Brace competes at a college wrestling match.
Brace allegedly faced verbal abuse from coaches during the incident that led to his death.

Brace — who suffered from narcolepsy, was prescribed Adderall and was supposed to be granted “unlimited access to water” — told witnesses he could no longer see, began speaking “gibberish,” and tackled a teammate to the ground before leaving the gym, according to the report.

He then ran to a nearby building and tried to open a locked door, security footage reportedly showed.

“In the video, Grant appeared to be in panic or what I would describe as fight or flight,” Bird reportedly said.

Nearly two hours later he was found on all fours next to what appeared to be vomit, according to the station.

Grant Brace with his parents during a college wrestling tournament in 2019.
Brace with his parents during a wrestling tournament in 2019.

“Heatstroke is where your core temperature elevates above 104 degrees,” national heat expert Bud Cooper told the outlet.

“Usually with heatstroke, individuals have lost consciousness. And again you can pick them out. You will start to see them. They will lose their ability to continue an activity. They’ll be lethargic. They’ll have an inability to communicate.”

Brace’s family reportedly filed a police report and wrongful death lawsuit against the school, claiming coaches failed to protect Brace’s health and safety.

Police continue to investigate the deadly incident, the station said.