Florida High School Runner Considering Lawsuit After Being Punched During Race

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 2, 2022

Belgrade , Serbia - 17 March 2022; A general view of starting blocks on the track ahead of the World Indoor Athletics Championships at the tark Arena in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images

An attorney for the Florida high school runner who was punched during a track meet last weekend said reports the family didn't want to press charges are inaccurate.

"The family has read reports that the [Osceola County Sheriff's Department] claims [my client] refused to press charges," lawyer Nathan Carter told TMZ Sports in a statement released Saturday. "This is false."

Carter said the family decided against initially moving forward with a case because they were told their son would also be arrested and charged with battery by an OCSD officer. He added they are still considering their legal options, including a potential civil lawsuit.

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A spokesperson for the OCSD told TMZ on Thursday its officers were on duty at the Tohopekaliga Tiger Invitational when the incident occurred last Saturday. They added neither family expressed a desire to press charges.

TMZ noted there was an interaction between the two high school students earlier in the event, when the athlete who threw the punch was allegedly pushed by the other runner.

Officials for the Florida High School Athletic Association and Orange County Public Schools told TMZ they are reviewing the situation for potential disciplinary actions.

Carter said his client suffered a concussion because of the punch, and he blamed event officials for a lack of action when it became clear tensions were building between the two student-athletes:

"If this event hired proper officials to help run this track meet, they could have prevented this. They could have prevented the CC athlete from standing on the track during the first turn. Or they could have moved the CC athlete after the first lap incident. Or they could have moved the CC athlete before the second lap incident. Or they could have stopped the CC athlete before he chased [my client] down and sucker-punched him. They had many opportunities to prevent this and failed to do so."

The attorney didn't provide a timetable for a decision from the family about whether to move forward with criminal or civil proceedings.

No public comments have been released from the other athlete's family about the incident.