The MU Athletic Department released a timeline Friday morning detailing the events leading up to the death of MU football player Aaron O’Neal after a voluntary practice on July 12.
The release confirms some earlier reports and helps fill in the 25-minute gap that existed between the time O’Neal was taken to a locker room at Faurot Field and when the MU athletic training staff called paramedics at University Hospital after O’Neal arrived at the Tom Taylor Athletic Facility.
When combined with an MU Police report, information from photographs published in the Columbia Daily Tribune, and an Associated Press article, the timeline brings the incident into better focus.
The school characterized its version of the events as its “best estimation, based on the information available to the institution” in a statement accompanying the timeline.
Now that MU has weighed in, the sequence of events appears to have unfolded as shown below.
1:30 p.m.: The MU timeline said that the summer voluntary practice began.
Earlier reports indicated that the practice was run by Pat Ivey, MU’s strength and conditioning coach, and 12 players were in attendance.
2:35 p.m.: The MU timeline said that conditioning drills ended, and that all players finished the workout.
2:39 p.m.: A photo taken by Columbia Daily Tribune photographer Jenna Isaacson shows O’Neal lying on the ground. The MU timeline said he “went to the ground,” and did not say whether or not O’Neal collapsed or made the decision to lie down.
Also, the series of 18 photos does not show how long O’Neal, 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, lay on the turf. They do show him being assisted, and walked around for three minutes by an unidentified strength coach.
2:43 p.m.: The MU timeline said that O’Neal began walking to the game day locker room located at the south end of Faurot Field, assisted by a teammate, earlier reported by the Missourian as Darren Meade. This moment is also documented in an Issacson photo.
2:45-2:57 p.m.: The MU timeline said that O’Neal was in the locker room with a teammate, although it did not say whether Meade was that teammate, and an unidentified member of MU’s athletic training staff. It makes no mention of what O’Neal’s medical condition was, or the type of treatment he may have received.
A police report filed by MU Officer Clayton Henke provides some idea. Albert Castillo, an assistant athletic trainer, said in the report that O’Neal began to have problems breathing and stayed behind in the locker room.
2:57-3:00 p.m.: The MU timeline said that O’Neal was carried out of the locker room, and then placed into the front seat of a waiting truck in the gravel parking lot at the south end of the stadium. He was then driven across Providence Road to the Tom Taylor Athletic Facility.
3:03 p.m.: The MU timeline said the truck arrived at the Taylor building. Castillo said it was at this point that O’Neal was unconscious, but did have a pulse.
He said O’Neal was taken to the sports medicine office inside where he continued to have “weak pulse.” Again, MU made no mention of O’Neal’s condition in their timeline or medical treatment O’Neal may have received.
3:08 p.m.: The MU timeline said that paramedics were dispatched to the building. According to an AP article, the call was made by Greg Nagel, an athletic trainer.
Castillo said that that he was unable to find an auditory heart beat and attached an AED, or an automatic external defibrillation device to O’Neal. Yet, it is not known if Castillo did so before, or after Nagel called 911.
The device analyzes a patient’s heart rhythm, determines if a shock is needed to initiate fibrillation and will then charge itself before delivering a shock to re-establish a regular heart rhythm.
The MU timeline did not mention anything similar to what was described in Henke’s report.
3:14 p.m.: The MU timeline says that paramedics arrived at the Taylor building and “assumed primary care” of O’Neal.
3:24 p.m.: Henke is dispatched to the Taylor building and said he was informed while en route that O’Neal had gone into cardiac arrest. When he arrived he said he witnessed paramedics performing CPR on O’Neal.
3:30 p.m.: The MU timeline said that the ambulance arrived at University Hospital.
Henke said that he “assisted the ambulance in transporting O’Neal,” and paramedics continued performing CPR.
4:05 p.m.: O’Neal is pronounced dead at University Hospital.
In the release, the MU athletic department also said that it will provide updates as more information becomes available in the coming days and weeks.
“We are continuing to do our due diligence in assisting with the review of the day’s events,” the release said. “We ask for everyone’s patience as we allow this review to be pursued.”
Dr. Valerie Rao, Boone Country medical examiner, is conducting an independent investigation into O’Neal’s death. Results of her investigation have not been released.