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Bakersfield attorney Benjamin Greene dead after collapsing during run

Bakersfield, Calif., attorney Benjamin Greene is seen in a KBAK/KBFX file photo. Greene died Tuesday, June 20, 2017, after collapsing during a 5K run in the high heat.

A Bakersfield attorney died Tuesday night after collapsing during a run in the extreme heat.

Benjamin Greene's wife, Michelle Greene, told Eyewitness News that her husband collapsed "during the 5k run that should of been canceled and may of played into it."

The high Tuesday was 110 degrees, and it was still over 100 when the 5K started during the evening in Hart Park. The race was put on by the Bakersfield Track Club.

Before the race, the Bakersfield Track Club posted on Facebook, "we know it's hot out today and Race #2 is at 7:00."

This race was part of the club's Summer Series. A friend of Greene said his goal was to finish the string of races.

Friend Nate Wren said Greene trained for this race and was in great shape. Wren said he believes the heat contributed to Greene's death.

Greene, 48, was declared deceased at 8:32 p.m. at Kern Medical, according to the Kern County coroner's office.

His cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.

"He was worried about the heat, and he can't really carry stuff, so I was just walking, and anytime he needed water during the run I would hand it to him and make sure he was fine, and if anything happened I was right there," Wren said.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Greene’s family spoke about how they're dealing with this loss.

Michelle Greene said the past 24-hours have been an emotional roller coaster. She said she has not been able to sleep or eat and wants to wake up from what she calls a terrible nightmare.

“I’m in shock. I can’t believe it,” she said. “He's never coming home. There's no changing this. My children will never get to really know their father.”

Greene leaves behind nine children, including 5-year-old triplets, 14-year-old twins and a 13-year-old son.


Michelle Greene said her husband was healthy and in shape. She blamed the event organizers for her husband’s death. She said they should have canceled the run.

“They weren’t prepared for medical emergencies knowing that there was a heat wave coming through Bakersfield,” said Michelle Greene. "People weren’t supposed to be outside.”

Wren said it was in the second mile that Greene collapsed. Wren said someone did CPR, but there was no AED and no paramedics on stand-by during the race.

"Why didn't they have medics out there?" he said. "If they thought of canceling the race, why wouldn't you bring medics out as a precaution?"

The Bakersfield Track Club sent Eyewitness News a statement about the incident.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Greene’s family at this sad and difficult time,” Bakersfield Track Club Board President Rey Rodriguez said as part of the issued statement.

The full statement can be seen below. It reads, in part:

"The track club’s “Summer Series” has been held for more than 30 years. The six races are held every other Tuesday from June through August. Normally, only three aid stations are set up during the summer races. Because of the heat, five aid stations were set up for yesterday’s race to provide the 180 runners with extra water, ice and Gatorade. Misting stations were also set up at the beginning and end of the course to assist the runners."

Bakersfield Track Club did not comment on if it had medics, an AED, or first-aid kit on stand-by during the race.

The family started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral cost.


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