LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The family of a River Bluff High School football player who died during practice two years ago has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims Lexington District One, the state's High School League, the South Carolina Board of Education and others failed to protect student-athletes from dangerous conditions - practicing in the 95-degree heat.
"Lewis Simpkins...was an outstanding high school football player in his hometown of Lexington, SC," the lawsuit says. "Lewis was a hulking 6-foot-2 and 270-pound defensive tackle who had hoped to eventually play at Clemson University."
Simpkins' family says the team practiced outside, in full pads, for two hours in extreme heat after handily losing a scrimmage the day before. The lawsuit says many players including Lewis struggled.
"On Aug. 10, 2016, River Bluff football team had a full-pads practice. According to former players, it was the hardest practice they had ever had. The practice was a punishment of sorts for the poor performance in the scrimmage against Greenwood the day prior," the lawsuit said. "The heat index during practice was 95 degrees according to the National Weather Service. People should exercise "extreme caution" with prolonged exposure to heat index conditions above 90, according to the weather service's general warning about heat indexes. River Bluff's football team practiced for more than two hours in the conditions.
The lawsuit claims careless, reckless and grossly negligent action caused Simpkins' death. His family is asking for a jury trial to determine the number of damages.
When asked about the lawsuit, Lexington School District 1 Superintendent Dr. Greg Little said: "We certainly can't comment on ongoing litigation. But, we continue to keep the family of Lewis Simpkins in our thoughts and prayers. They are, after all, part of the Lexington District One family, and we will always consider them to be part of our Gator Nation."
For their part, the Simpkins family says Lewis' spirit lives on in his works and the foundation started in his memory. They released a statement from their attorneys, which says: