Sheriff says Bear River student Justin Butler's death an accident

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Bear River High School student Justin Butler’s death was a tragic accident, a Nevada County Sheriff’s Office investigation concluded today. And as Butler’s schoolmates begin to emerge from the shock of a loss of a popular member of its football team, moves are already taking place on campus to honor his memory. A statement issued today by the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t go into specifics on the cause of Butler’s death. But it does attempt to dispel several possible causes the Sheriff’s Office describes as rumors that have been circulating since Monday. Butler, 16, died Monday after being found unconscious inside his Lake of the Pines home Sunday evening. Lt. Joe Salivar said in the statement that several rumors have circulated about the cause of death, ranging from a football injury to the victim becoming entangled in a piece of exercise equipment. “The investigation has concluded the death was a result of a very tragic accident,” Salivar said. Butler, a wide receiver on the Bear River school’s football team, was pronounced dead at a Sacramento County medical facility after being airlifted there. During the sheriff’s investigation, detectives made contact with several people who had information regarding the incident, Salivar said. “There is no information or evidence to suggest the death was a result of a football injury,” Salivar said. “There is no information or evidence to suggest in any way the victim was trying purposefully to hurt himself or end his own life.” Though there was exercise equipment inside the room where the incident occurred, it was determined it did not cause the death, Salivar said. The Sheriff’s Office described the room Butler was found unconscious in a breezeway of a Torrey Pines Drive house. The room contained a Bowflex exercise machine, a sheriff’s spokesman said Monday. The sheriff’s report stated that deputies were initially dispatched to assist medical personnel in the Lake of the Pines gated residential community, “with an unconscious juvenile who had reportedly ‘hung himself.’” Tuesday’s sheriff’s release. Today's report concludes that no suicide took place. Duwaine Ganskie, Bear River athletic director, said today that Friday’s scheduled game between the Bear River team and River Valley High School in Yuba City will go on, with Bear River players wearing stickers bearing Butler’s No. 8 on their helmets. The team will be dedicating the game to Butler’s memory, he added. River City has also agreed to have a moment of silence at the game to remember Butler, Ganskie said. “The football team is definitely trying to put their collective souls and minds together on how to recognize Justin Butler,” Ganskie said. “It’s a tragedy but first of all, it’s a loss to the family. I think the school and the community are all there to support the family.” The mood at the school was somber again Tuesday, Ganskie said. “But there was also a sense of purpose to move forward and make sure to do everything possible in the immediate future to honor Justin’s legacy,” he said. “The message people can take from this is just how fragile and precious life is.” .