Family files suit blaming coach and school board for horrific death of football player

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A high school football coach and his representative school district have been sued in connection with one of the more horrific accidental deaths of a young athlete in recent years.

Roberson football coach Jim Beatty has been named in a lawsuit — YouTube
Roberson football coach Jim Beatty has been named in a lawsuit — YouTube

As first reported by the Asheville Citizen-Times, and followed upon by the Associated Press, the family of the late Donald "Donnie" Crotty filed a lawsuit against Roberson (N.C.) High head football coach Jim Beatty and the Buncombe County Board of Education. The lawsuit cites negligence on the part of both the coach and board of education in the incident that led to their son's death.

In the summer of 2011, Donnie Crotty, a varsity football player under Beatty's instruction, was struck by an ATV that was driven by a fellow teen while both were at a football practice. According to the Citizen-News, Crotty's head was run over by the SUV and he died in a hospital 10 days later.

No one has previously claimed that Crotty's death was the result of anything more sinister than a horrific freak accident. Now, the deceased teen's family is suing the parties mentioned above as well as the student who drove the John Deere vehicle, claiming that the driver, "operated the vehicle in a careless, negligent and reckless manner and without due regard for Donald Boyer Crotty and the other players."

The suit also specifically calls out Beatty for failing to establish a designated speed at which to drive the vehicle and that it was the coach's fault that students were driving the vehicle in the first place.

The school district banned any students from operating school district vehicles shortly after Crotty's death, though the official filed answer to the Crotty family's lawsuit actually faults the deceased student for being run over by the vehicle.

Crotty, "through his own negligence, was in a position of actual peril from which he could have extricated himself if he were more attentive," the answer states.

That reads as a truly harsh indictment for an athlete who was simply walking along a path following a football practice, though it's worth noting that the response is a fairly typical legal answer to a case such as this.

The eventual outcome of the suit can't bring Crotty back. The significance now is that those he left behind no longer seem willing to let the blame for the incident go unchecked.

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