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Lawsuit in ‘sudden death’ of St. Henry athlete Matt Mangine Jr., settled; foundation honors his memory

(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add a post-publication comment from the Diocese of Covington)

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

A lawsuit that was scheduled for a court date today has been settled out of court in the case of Matthew Mangine Jr., a junior at St. Henry High School when he died tragically on the soccer field after a conditioning practice in June 2020.

Matthew Mangine Jr., 16

His parents, Kate and Matthew Mangine, ultimately filed a wrongful death suit in Novembeer 2020 against the Diocese of Covington/St. Henry District High School and St. Elizabeth Healthcare, citing that an AED (automated external defibrillator) was not used on Matthew for about 12 minutes after his collapse — and until EMS arrived.

By law, an AED is supposed to be readily available — and school staff adequately trained — in case of emergency. In this case, the AED was not close by, nobody looked for it, and the coaches claimed to have no knowledge of it.

Mangine collapsed on the final spring conditioning practice that fateful day, just after the Kentucky High School Athletic Association allowed post-pandemic practices to resume, and he did not survive. He played soccer for the Kings Hammer Soccer.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

“We are pleased that a settlement was achieved,” said Kevin Murphy, the Mangines’ attorney. “Kim and Matt Mangine brought this lawsuit to raise awareness that policies and procedures put in place for the safety of student-athletes must be followed.

“Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one cause of death of student-athletes. Emergency action plans must be followed, and an Automated External Defibrillator should be on site or no more that a minute away, with coaches knowing exactly where it is and how to use it.

“We all saw just two weeks ago on Monday Night Football (referring to Damar Hamlin) that AEDs save lives.

“Matthew deserved that same chance at life.”

Hamlin, a Buffalo Bills safety, went into cardiac arrest on the field during a Cincinnati Bengals game, was treated quickly and is recovering.

A coroner’s report rested for over 60 substances in Mangine’s system and found none. His parents insisted there was no reason to suspect any issues related to young Matt’s participation on the soccer team.

“Every school in Kentucky should have an Emergency Action Plan that is practiced with simulated emergencies several times a year. A child’s life is worth it,” said Murphy.

Matthew and his family (Photo from Foundation website)

The lawsuit claimed those life-saving steps were not followed and did not list the closest emergency response equipment to the site of Mangine’s collapse. It said there were five AEDs on-site, four in the school and one with the athletic trainer, but the coach didn’t have keys to access the one closest to the practice field.

Boone County Sheriff’s Department body camera shows EMS responding with an AED more than 10 minutes after his collapse.

St. Elizabeth provides athletic trainers to 24 high schools in the Northern Kentucky area ― mostly private schools. St. Elizabeth employs a full-time athletic trainer at St. Henry but he was at another practice on the other side of the field.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in high school athletes.

Mangine is the grandson of University of Cincinnati’s sports medicine director Robert Mangine.

His parents, Matthew Sr. and Kim, and his younger brother, Joseph, launched a non-profit called The Matthew Mangine Jr. “One Shot” Foundation less than a year after Mangine’s death. The foundation aims to place AEDs on sidelines across Greater Cincinnati.

On the foundation’s website, the Mangines have posted a tribute to their son — a “hugger” who loved cars, country music, iced coffee, and the colors red and purple. He wanted to play soccer in college.

The purpose of the “One Shot” Foundation in his name is to “educate parents, coaches, and athletes about the number of preventable sudden deaths. We strive to raise awareness about cardiac episodes by educating parents, coaches, and athletes on the importance of properly executing Emergency Action Plans. We advocate for the expanded use of AEDs along with heat/cold therapy devices. Our purpose is to make sure youth and high school athletes are properly cared for because no family should have to endure the pain of preventable sudden death. You have “One Shot” to save a life.”

The goals of the foundation are to provide education and expanded availability of AEDs, to educate and put to use Emergency Action Plans, to start a scholarship fund for siblings of sudden death athletes, and to create a financial assistance fund for families of sudden death athletes.

See more about the Matthew W. Mangine Jr. “One Shot” Foundation here.

The Diocese of Covington has released this statement:

“Matthew Mangine was a loved and respected student, athlete, and friend at St. Henry District High School. Our school and faith community continues to grieve for him. We admire the efforts of his parents, Matthew Sr. and Kim Mangine, to increase the safety of student athletes throughout Greater Cincinnati through the Matthew Mangine Jr. “One Shot” Foundation. With this legal settlement, it is our hope that the SHDHS community can help support that effort to honor the life of their son, our friend, Matthew Mangine.”

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