Nearly one month after Bryce Beekman died in his Pullman apartment, the Whitman County Coroner’s Office confirmed the Washington State football player’s death was accidental and resulted from the “acute intoxication” of two drugs.
According to a media release from Coroner Annie Pillers, Beekman’s death stemmed from combining fentanyl, a severe pain reliever normally used to treat advanced cancer pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, and promethazine, commonly used for allergic reaction relief.
No other details were provided by the coroner’s office.
Beekman, a starting senior safety for WSU from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, died in Pullman on March 23, just days before the Cougars were scheduled to begin spring camp, which was canceled due to COVID-19.
Pullman Police reported to a call from Beekman’s residence at 5:44 p.m. that alleged the 22-year-old was suffering from breathing problems. By the time responders arrived to the apartment, Beekman was already dead.
Originally, the Whitman County Coroner’s Office anticipated it would take two to three months to determine the cause of death, but the process was expedited and took just 31 days to complete.
In a statement released via WSU, the Beekman family alluded to having “many outstanding questions” even after the cause of death was confirmed.
“We are working closely with the Pullman Police to get our questions answered and ultimately help prevent this from happening again to anyone else’s son or daughter,” the statement read.
According to the CDC website, fentanyl is 50 to 100 more times potent than morphine and often prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges. The website also says the drug can be diverted for misuse and abuse in the U.S., and many cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose or death are traced to illegally made fentanyl. The media release did not clarify whether the fentanyl Beekman used was prescribed or made illegally.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine website describes promethazine as something that’s used to treat allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic skin reactions and allergic reactions to blood or plasma products. It can also be used as a sedative for patients before and after surgery. The website also warns patients using promethazine the drug can cause breathing to slow or stop.
Despite restrictions around the the novel coronaviris outbreak, Beekman’s family was able to travel to Pullman shortly after the death and meet with WSU football coach Nick Rolovich and athletics director Pat Chun while maintaining social distancing. The family planned to hold separate memorial services in Baton Rouge, where Beekman spent his senior year of high school, as well as his native Milwaukee.
“We are extremely grateful for the national outpouring of love and support,” the Beekman family statement read. “It is a clear sign of all the lives that were touched by Bryce. We encourage everyone to remember how his bright smile, genuine personality, and amazing spirit brought people together, which is what made him such a wonderful family member, real friend, and great teammate.”
A GoFundMe designed to support Beekman’s family has raised more than $31,000. One of the player’s WSU teammates, nose tackle Dallas Hobbs, has created various sticker designs with Beekman’s name and number – all of the proceeds for the fundraiser going to Beekman’s family.
“Like many college students, Bryce was looking forward to graduating and was excited about his future,” the statement read. “He had his whole life in front of him, and it is nothing but a tragedy that he has been taken from us so soon.”
WSU also released its own statement Friday afternoon, reacting to the news from the coroner’s office: “We are aware of the Whitman County Coroner’s report regarding Bryce’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Bryce’s family, friends and teammates. We continue to support all of our student-athletes in this difficult time.”
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