Memorial held for wrestler as investigation continues
20 year-old Ben Richards
Tracy Goode, Darton State College Dean of Institutional Advancement and Public Relations
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
The investigation into the death of a Darton State College wrestler continues Thursday.
Ben Richards collapsed during a training run and was hospitalized for ten days before he was taken off life support. Now, friends, Family and Faculty will be here tonight to celebrate the life of 20-year-old Ben Richards, while searching for answers.
And school officials said they may change the way practice is conducted in the wake of the tragedy.
The rows of chairs set up outside the Darton State College student center will be filled with grieving relatives Thursday night for Richards.
"Ben had been attending Green Briar Church, which is right up the road from Darton here on Gillionville Road," said Tracy Goode, Darton State College Dean of Institutional Advancement and Public Relations. "And the ministry team from Green Briar and the father of Ben, they've actually come together and talked about an order of service. And they're holding the service out here."
The school's wrestling program has come under fire after Richards collapsed during a five mile run with teammates on September 4th. Just the day before, wrestler Alex Washington suffered from dehydration on a run in the heat.
"We are gonna look at every aspect. From the coaching aspect from the preparation, from our students athletes to make sure they're hydrated before and hydrated after which has been a part of our policy all along," Goode said.
Goode said the investigation is ongoing, but insists wrestlers were never restricted from fluids.
"We've said from the beginning, and we immediately discovered that our wrestlers always were allowed ample rest and water breaks," said Goode.
He said the coaches will be meeting with physicians from around the state in an effort to improve safety.
"This is a tragedy. We want to make sure that this, or any other incident with all of our athletes," Goode said. "And we have 50wrestlers and hosts of other athletes that do outdoor practice, and we want to make sure that the guidelines are the best you can find."
While the community continues to seek answers, Richards will live on in the hearts of those who celebrate his life tonight.
Goode said the athletic department will have meetings tomorrow and the beginning of next week with physicians and trainers from other schools in the University of Georgia system to find the safest training practices.
The memorial is open to the public and will take place on the Darton State College Campus at 7:30pm Thursday.