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Two high school coaches charged with murder after student dies from heat stroke during basketball practice

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Image Source: WXIA-TV YouTube screenshot composite

Two Atlanta coaches have been charged with murder over the 2019 death of a student from heat stroke during an outdoor basketball practice session.

Prosecutors allege that the two coaches, Larosa Maria Walker-Asekere and Dwight Broom Palmer, ordered 16-year-old Imani Bell to a dangerous practice at Elite Scholars Academy that resulted in her death.

The Bell family's attorneys said in a wrongful death lawsuit that the temperature on the day of the practice was between 96 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit, but the heat index was as high as 106 degrees.

"Due to the extreme heat and humidity outside, Imani began experiencing early signs of heat illness and was visibly struggling to physically perform the outdoor conditioning drills defendants directed her to perform," read the lawsuit.

"Defendants observed Imani experiencing early signs of heat illness during the outdoor practice but nevertheless directed Imani to continue performing the conditioning drills with her team and directed Imani to run up the stadium steps," the lawsuit said.

The students on the basketball team were told to run up a hill, perform a number of jumping jacks, and then come back down the hill. Then they ran a quarter-mile lap and told to run up a set of stairs. Bell was aided by coaches as she struggled.

The 16-year-old collapsed during the practice and lost consciousness. She was taken to a hospital by ambulance and was later declared dead.

The lawsuit also said that the teenager had no underlying health issues that contributed to her death.

A Clayton County grand jury indicted the two coaches on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree child cruelty, involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct.

Both coaches were released on a $75,000 bond after being arrested.

Here's a local news report about the lethal incident:

Family of Imani Bell speaks after coaches charged with murder in teen's death www.youtube.com

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