Wrongful Death Suit Filed in University of Missouri Football Incident

Wrongful Death Suit Filed in University of Missouri Football Incident

Deborah O'Neal, a Kansas City, Missouri area mother has joined as a co-plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her ex-husband Lonnie O'Neal following the death of their son during a University of Missouri football team practice.  The couple’s 19-year-old son, Aaron O’Neal, a team linebacker, died after collapsing during an intense workout on July 12, 2005.

The lawsuit names the athletic director Mike Alden, head coach Gary Pinkel, team medical director Rex Sharp and 11 trainers and strength coaches.  A Boone County medical examiner listed the boy’s death as probably being caused by viral meningitis.  Brain swelling caused by the meningitis likely contributed to the boy’s breathing problems experienced during the incident.

During the practice, according to records and interviews with some 20 players who witnessed the event, O’Neal repeatedly lost balance and was complaining of blurred vision.  The lawsuit alleges that the strength coaches failed to recognize these symptoms and stop the exercising to seek medical attention. 

After falling down for the last time, strength coach took him to the football team’s office in a truck they had to flag down, instead of trying to get medical assistance.  The young man was taken to the University hospital where he was pronounced dead.


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