– Authorities are still investigating the death of a 17-year-old
Hollister male after his body was found in a tree along the San
Benito River bed Thursday.
So far, there’s no indication of foul play, according to
Sheriff’s officials. They’re investigating it as a possible
I don’t know the answer to that question,
Sheriff Curtis Hill said.
HOLLISTER – Authorities are still investigating the death of a 17-year-old Hollister male after his body was found in a tree along the San Benito River bed Thursday.
So far, there’s no indication of foul play, according to Sheriff’s officials. They’re investigating it as a possible suicide.
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Sheriff Curtis Hill said. “That’s the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind the whole thing.”
Authorities did not release his name. He was a student at San Andreas Continuation High School.
At about 5:15 p.m. Thursday, four local teenagers reported seeing a body hanging from a tree neighboring the dried out river bed. The body was located adjacent to apartment complexes in the 700 and 800 blocks of Nash Road – about a quarter mile from San Benito High School.
Sheriff’s officers notified the family Thursday night, according to Lt. Pat Turturici.
The Hollister Police Department received a report Wednesday evening of a missing person, who turned out to be the 17-year-old, according to police officials.
Police Chief Jeff Miller said the department would wait for results of the Sheriff’s investigation before considering any potential involvement.
“It would depend on a number of factors,” Miller said. “Part of that depends on the results of the sheriff’s investigation.”
The Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy Friday afternoon, and results showed he died from “asphyxia” – which means a lack of air, according to Detective/Sgt. Wes Walker.
The investigation is “pretty close to completed,” Walker said. It has been ruled a suicide for now, and “absolutely no” evidence of homicide has been found, he said.
But Walker did say an array of rumors have been circulating among students at the high school campus.
“The Sheriff’s Department is looking into each and every one of those rumors,” Walker said.
At the school Friday, counselors and other personnel helped grieving students and teachers, according to Principal Mike Sanchez.
Sanchez said he also was available to offer guidance to the school community in dealing with the tragedy.
“We definitely are providing information by way of allowing students to visit the situation in their classes,” Sanchez said.
San Andreas is joined by other schools in the county’s system of alternative education. Several schools offer instruction for students who don’t succeed in traditional environments.
It is unclear whether the boy who died experienced behavioral or psychological problems. Sanchez called him, “a typical high school student.”
Although the entire school staff was aware Friday, many of the boy’s classmates had not heard of the death yet, Sanchez said. He said most students would have heard the news over the weekend.
“We haven’t entered that world at all,” Sanchez said. “Monday’s the day when people will have dealt with it over the weekend.”
Regardless of uncertainties about cause of death, one thing is certain, Hill said.
“That’s a sad event right there, and it didn’t have to happen,” he said.
Miller said the Hollister Police Department has investigated “a rash of runaways in the past week or so.” He said he can’t attribute the recent trend to anything.
“We encourage parents to take time to talk to kids,” Miller said. “It’s a tragic thing when this happens – any time a minor leaves home.”
Erin Musgrave contributed to this story.