December 3, 2021 - 7:16 pm
A recording of a 911 call offers a snapshot into the frantic moments after UNLV student Nathan Valencia collapsed following a bout in a fraternity-sponsored charity boxing event on Nov. 19.
“We need medics here, like right now,” the female caller exclaimed. “Right now.”
She said there was a “fight night” and that something had occurred, but “we’re not sure what happened.”
The call began at 9:41 p.m., and an ambulance carrying Valencia arrived at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center 20 minutes later, according to redacted dispatch records released Friday by Clark County.
Four days later, the 20-year-old junior was dead from blunt force head trauma, according to the Clark County coroner’s office, which ruled his death a homicide.
The term, when someone dies in the hands of another person, does not always have legal implications, as it was noted by the Metropolitan Police Department, which announced Tuesday that it had declined to pursue criminal charges.
Valencia’s death has raised accusations from his family — through their attorneys in the Richard Harris Law Firm — that organizers, UNLV’s Kappa Sigma fraternity and the venue where the seven-card fight took place, Sahara Event Center, were ill equipped to offer a safe environment.
They also blame UNLV, where the weigh-in for the fight took place two days prior. They allege there were no medics at the scene during the fights, and that the man who played the role of referee was not licensed and was seen drinking alcohol in a video they evaluated. That person has not been publicly identified.
The 911 caller told a dispatcher that there were “nurses” present “but we need real” medical help, she said, noting that there were people in the ring with Valencia and that the venue was being evacuated.
“They all looked the other way and failed to ensure proper safety precautions were in place,” a statement from the family read. “We will hold those responsible for Nathan’s death accountable and ensure that this never happens to another son, daughter, or member of this community.”
The call on Nov. 19 lasted nearly seven minutes. Among background yelling, the caller sounds shaken but composed, something the dispatcher notes at one point.
“Hey, is there any serious bleeding,” she exclaims when asked by the dispatcher. “I’m on the phone with 911. Yes or no?”
Her answers about Valencia’s medical condition are edited out. A Clark County spokesman said it was because of privacy laws.
“Do not move him unless he’s in danger,” said the dispatcher, noting that paramedics would arrive soon with “lights and sirens.”
The dispatcher, who instructs the caller not to give Valencia water or food, asks if Valencia had experienced COVID-19 symptoms.
The caller confirmed that Valencia was “still awake.”
“Why did I have to be the person to call 911,” the caller lamented at one point.
“You’re the most calm to do it,” the dispatcher responds.
The ambulance pulled up to the hospital four minutes after leaving the venue.
The Nevada Athletic Commission, which regulates unarmed contact sports, was probing “every aspect of the event,” it said this week.
The commission said it had not sanctioned the event but noted that it has jurisdiction over the investigation, which was in its fact-gathering stage, Commission Chairman Stephen Cloobeck told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday.
The five members in the panel, who are appointed to three-year terms by the governor, will discuss additional details during their upcoming meeting Dec. 13, Cloobeck said.
According to state law, the commission can take disciplinary action against “any person” involved with unarmed combat in the state, regardless of licensing. Penalties include a misdemeanor conviction and fines of up to $250,000.
The statute, however, appears to exempt certain schools or “organization of a school” as long as the participants are students at that institution. The fights were among students in UNLV fraternities.
The Nevada attorney general’s office represents the commission in legal matters. Cloobeck directed further inquiry to Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office, which declined comment, citing attorney-client privilege.
UNLV, which this week suspended the fraternity, and the Nevada System of Higher Education vowed to participate in the investigation.
“Let there be no doubt that I am committed to ensuring that a full and independent investigation into all the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter is promptly conducted and that accountability for this tragedy is prioritized,” Chancellor Melody Rose wrote this week in a statement.
Nicholas Lasso, one of two attorneys representing Valencia’s family, who specialize in personal injury and wrongful death litigation, could not be reached for additional comment Friday. The man who fought Valencia that night did not respond to a message seeking comment.