MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The legal counsel for the Rough N Rowdy Brawl event promoters said the recent death of contestant Willie Pedersen is a tragedy, but doesn't believe it could have been avoided.
Attorney Richard Neely said there were two doctors and EMS personnel standing by at the Feb. 4 event. Additionally, the event was regulated by the South Carolina Athletic Commission.
"The promoters did not hire the referees. The referees were hired by the athletic commission," Neely said.
While he believes his clients operated the event within the boundaries of the law, Neely understands that a family has suffered a major loss.
"A death like this is extremely tragic. It's tragic emotionally in that children lose their fathers and wives lose their husbands," he said.
Willie Pedersen suffered a blow to the head during a bout at the competition. He spent several weeks in a medically-induced coma before passing away.
His wife, Melissa Pedersen, said her husband had no prior medical history. She added her husband had won his first fight the night before and was feeling the after-effects.
"I was like, 'Oh you'll be fine.' He was just complaining about pulling a muscle in his back," Pedersen said.
The night of Feb. 4 was one Pedersen said she regrets because she stayed home sick, never thinking for a moment her husband wouldn't be coming home.
"I got to the hospital and found out, oh no he's been taken to emergency surgery," she said. "I had so many questions. But obviously the surgeon was busy."
Her husband's blow to the head caused his brain to swell and bleed. The symptoms, however, didn't show up at first.
"And only after a while did he begin to feel bad, and then went back to the fighters lounge, and then he passed out," said Neely.
Pedersen said she does believe more could have been done to save her husband, and plans to look into how the event was managed.
According to Neely, there is no legal action pending at this time.