Hammerthrow Accident Victim Dies At 35

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A former University of Tennessee track athlete who won a million-dollar suit against the school for a head injury suffered at a meet in 1987 died Wednesday.

Scott Hartman, 35, never regained complete consciousness and died after a period of deteriorating health, his mother, Kay Hartman, told The Knoxville News Sentinel on Wednesday night.

“Scott fought a hard battle,” Kay Hartman said. “The doctors told me the day he was injured they didn’t know if he’d live through the first night.”

Hartman was a 19-year-old freshman when he was hit in the head by a 16-pound steel field hammer, which is a ball attached to a wire, during warmups at a track and field meet at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

He was treated at a rehabilitation center after his injury and eventually returned home to his mother’s house, where he lived the past 14 years.

At the Kentucky meet, Hartman was walking away from the throwing pit outside the foul line during warmups when he was hit in the back of the head by a practice throw from another athlete.

The University of Tennessee, Hartman’s parents and BellSouth wrangled in court for years. BellSouth, where Hartman’s father worked and had health insurance that covered his son, was seeking reimbursement from UT for the cost of Hartman’s care.

The case between the family and UT was settled in 1998, but the claims by BellSouth were not resolved.

A state appeals court in April upheld a ruling by the Tennessee Claims Commission that BellSouth was owed more than $1 million by UT for unpaid medical bills. The court said UT agreed to furnish medical treatment for any injuries incurred during athletic competition when it gave Hartman an athletic scholarship.

The funeral is tentatively scheduled for Saturday.