'There were a lot of breakdowns': Tim Hague's family believes his death could've been prevented

The family of late Edmonton boxer Tim Hague believe his death didn't have to happen. 

On Monday the family held a news conference, sharing personal details about Hague's final days and updates about their ongoing lawsuit.

In a statement, Hague's brother Ian Hague recounted Tim's death. He spoke about the family's experience following the tragic incident. 

"We all remember this like it was yesterday," Ian said. 

Tim died on June 18, 2017, after receiving a devastating blow to the head during a boxing match at the Edmonton Conference Centre, formerly the Shaw Conference Centre.

He was knocked down three times in the first round, before an uppercut from the opponent left him unconscious during the second round.

Tim managed to walk to his dressing room before collapsing into a coma. His family took him off life support two days later.

Ian said it was "the worst decision we had ever had to make."

Tim died surrounded by loved ones with his favourite songs, including November Rain by Guns N' Roses, playing in the background, Ian said.

Scott Neufeld/CBC

Following Tim's funeral, the Hague family received an onslaught of messages suggesting Tim's death could have been prevented.

That's when Ian and his relatives decided to pursue legal advice.

"We started getting calls, emails, texts, information we had no idea about, infuriating information that makes us think maybe this could have been prevented after all, and maybe we should get a lawyer to look into this information for us," Ian said.

The family is seeking more than $5 million in compensation.

On June 7, a statement of claim was filed at the Court of Queen's Bench in Edmonton.

The lawsuit alleges the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission, the Shaw Conference Centre management and multiple regulatory officials, referees and physicians were negligent and caused or contributed to the death of Tim.

It criticizes the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission's handling of fight and medical records, as well as the conduct of referees and ringside physicians on the night of the fight.

The city is implicated because Alberta is the only province that puts combative sports commissions under municipal jurisdiction. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson has lobbied the province to create an independent governing body.

The statement of claim accuses the city of "negligent hiring and retention" of the Combative Sports Commission's former executive director, Pat Reid.

Reid allegedly failed to report two of Tim's mixed-martial arts fights — one in December 2015 and another in March 2016.

If those results had been forwarded and made accessible, "a reasonable sports commission would not have licensed Tim Hague to compete in combative events allowing him to sustain additional trauma that ultimately resulted in or contributed to his death," the suit reads.

"There were a lot of breakdowns that occurred," said Ari Schacter, one of two injury lawyers present at Monday's news conference. "It originated at the very top at the City of Edmonton and just went all the way down."

"Once there was an initial failure, it just set into motion almost like dominos falling. And then everything just combined into one tragic event."

At the time of the news conference, no statements of defence had been filed.

Supplied/Jordan Bittner

"This fight should never have taken place. It's clear. Our investigations have shown that," said Norm Assiff, another lawyer working on the case. "It's unfortunate no one has taken responsibility yet, but someone will at the end of the day, and if they don't, well, we will have to run this at trial."

The Hague family also tried to stop the boxer from competing in what would become his final match.

"I know you're all thinking, 'Why didn't you tell him to stop?'" said Ian. "Trust me, we did."

If the family gets a settlement, Ian said he hopes the money will help support Tim's son, who's still in therapy following his dad's death.

"This settlement will give Brady some comfort in the coming years. Some comfort his father will not be there to give him," Ian said.

Tim's widow, Brianna, and his sister, Jackie, also attended Monday's press conference, but both opted not to speak.