Parents of Ethan Roser sue NCAA

Lawsuit claims NCAA negligence caused student’s death

By Bethany Peterson

The parents of late Wheaton College student Ethan Roser, who was killed in 2017 after being struck in the head by a hammer thrown off course during a Wheaton track and field event, have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Roser’s parents allege the NCAA was negligent in their safety requirements for the hammer throwing event. Specifically, the NCAA is accused of failing to require minimum sizes for safety cages around the hammer throwing area and failing to require colleges to have trained officials at track and field events.

Roser was a freshman at Wheaton at the time of his death, having recently transferred to the college, and was a member of the Wheaton Men’s Soccer team. He was volunteering at the track and field event at Lawson Field when he was fatally hit. Roser was raced from the scene by emergency responders to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

A subsequent investigation by Wheaton police reported that Roser was standing 30 feet outside the landing zone for the event, which involves throwing a 9-16 pound metal ball attached to a handle by a wire. They also concluded that Roser and two other volunteers may not have been paying full attention to the event when the accident occured.

Director of Media Relations LaTonya Taylor said that while the college is aware of the lawsuit, it is not a party to the legal case. Wheaton, Taylor said, is committed to honoring Roser’s legacy on campus through the Ethan Roser Memorial Scholarship.

In October 2018, Wheaton College and the Roser family jointly announced the establishment of the endowed scholarship in memory of Roser, identifying him as a student “known for his love for God and for others, his commitment to evangelism and his ministry service with Young Life.”

The scholarship went into effect this semester. According to Director of Student Financial Services Karen Belling, an amount of $1,509 was awarded to two spring transfer students.

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