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El Reno police search for source of OU linebacker Austin Box's drugs

The El Reno Police Department is continuing to investigate the May 19 death of University of Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box in an attempt to determine the source of the prescription drugs he consumed.
BY RANDY ELLIS rellis@opubco.com Modified: July 13, 2011 at 8:54 am •  Published: July 13, 2011
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The El Reno Police Department is continuing to investigate the May 19 death of Sooner linebacker Austin Box in an attempt to determine the source of the prescription drugs he consumed, Police Chief Ken Brown confirmed Tuesday.

However, identifying a source may be difficult unless someone steps forward, Brown said.

“Unfortunately, this day and time, prescription drugs are easily attainable,” the police chief said.

Box's parents Monday released a one-page informational copy of a state medical examiner's report that indicated their son had five painkillers and the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam in his system when he died. The toxic combination of the drugs likely precipitated his death, the report said. The painkillers were identified as oxymorphone, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxycodone.

Craig and Gail Box, of Enid, said their son experienced some discomfort from back injuries, but they were not aware of Austin, 22, having any prescription for the drugs. They said they thought Austin would have told them if he had a prescription or that they would have learned about it through the family's insurance plan paperwork.

Austin died after spending the night in El Reno at the home of a friend, J.T. Cobble, who called 911 in the morning after finding his friend unconscious and not breathing.

“He takes pain pills,” Cobble told the 911 dispatcher.

Brown said police officers found one pill in the home that had the appearance of a prescription drug, but said his department has not determined the type of drug through chemical analysis.

“No pill bottle was found,” he said.

Brown said there was also no indication of partying the night before. Austin apparently spent a quiet evening playing video games with a friend, the police chief said.

There is a prescription database in Oklahoma, and Brown said his department is working with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control to determine whether Austin had legitimate prescriptions for any of the drugs detected in his body after his death.

If no matches are found, it will be difficult to determine where Austin got the drugs unless someone comes forward with information, Brown said.

“We've never closed the investigation,” he said.

Other agencies

Brown said if Austin did consume illicit drugs, there is no indication at this point that he obtained them in El Reno, so there is a good chance the department will be forwarding whatever information it obtains to other agencies.

The police chief confirmed that investigators examined the call history on Austin's cellphone, but said they found nothing obvious that would point them toward a drug transaction.

Read the medical examiner's report

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