CRC accident: Tech needs to protect students

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

I’m writing this feeling very blessed; I know I could be dead. I want to share my story with the hope that Tech takes necessary actions to avoid an accident like mine in the future and that all students know the risk on campus. In Sept. 2022, when I was a third-year pre-health student at the Institute, I was playing indoor soccer with two friends on the fourth floor of the Campus Recreation Center (CRC). I tripped while trying to score a goal and hit my head on the cinderblock wall of the goal. Most of the room was padded, but this area was not. One of my friends informed the CRC employee what happened, and that I threw up after I hit my head, but he was told they could not call an ambulance because I needed to call it. I didn’t know what I know now, which is that the accident impacted my brain and that probably impacted my decision-making abilities. 

My friends took me to my apartment where I only wanted to rest. I have played soccer since I was four years old, and I know that if you throw up after hitting your head you need to seek medical assistance immediately. However, I was not thinking right. How could I? I had a concussion, a brain bleed and a skull fracture. Luckily, my roommate was in the apartment and convinced me to call the Georgia Tech Police Department, who then called the ambulance. 

I ended up having emergency surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital, where they placed 50 staples on my head and two screws in my skull due to the fracture. The Institute failed me in so many ways. I should have never been allowed to leave the facility. They should have called the ambulance immediately. 

They have a sign in the room that in the second bullet point states “In case of an emergency, contact any Campus Recreation Staff immediately.” 

That is exactly what my friend did, and he was told I needed to call the ambulance and was abandoned to my luck. 

The sign also states on the first bullet “Participation in any physical activity has possible inherent and unforeseen risks. Anyone using the facility must be aware of this fact, assume the risks and be responsible for taking the proper precaution while using the facility, its programmed activities, as well as its equipment.”  The concrete wall is not an unforeseen risk; the CRC chose to have a high-risk element in a room where many sports are played. I chose to play in that room, and the responsibility is not only mine but the CRC’s as well. What is the proper precaution to play soccer in that room? If I would’ve died, would they have made changes?  

Maybe they would have hired trainers to explain the right way to use the room depending on the sport that is played or maybe they would have padded the goal area, which is the only area that is not padded in the room. 

But nothing has been done because I did not die. I want to tell my story so no other student experiences what I suffered or worse. I was in the hospital for a week, with pain that I have never experienced before in my life. I still suffer from headaches which I never had before. My parents were my rock during this time when I was abandoned by the Institute. 

The accident was on a Monday, and I received an email from the CRC that Wednesday following up on my accident asking for details about it to include in their report. 

I was in the hospital in the ICU at the time. I was so happy to go back to school after only three weeks of my accident, and all my teachers were very understanding except one. I supposedly had a test the same week I returned to campus, and I asked the professor if I could do it later since I needed to review several chapters that I missed due to my accident. The teacher gave me two days; therefore, I had to withdraw from the class.

I’m suing the Institute. The main reason is not the money; even though I still owe a significant sum of money to Grady Hospital. 

The trauma I experienced and the fact that I could have died doesn’t have a price tag.  I sued because I think the school needs to be held accountable for what happened. I love Tech; I’m a proud Jacket. 

I also think this accident was preventable. The college’s leadership did nothing for me. I was the one who suffered the pain, the trauma and who must live now with frequent headaches. 

One of my main goals is to make the Institute liable for my accident and ensure that the necessary steps are taken to prevent another accident like mine in all rooms where different sports are played.  I want improvement of protocol for students’ accidents on campus and better support for students who come back to classes after suffering an accident. 

We students are not just numbers, grades and points to get Tech higher rankings. We are the soul of this university. The baseline in return is for parents and students to have the certainty that the Institute does everything in its power to protect us.