Coroner: Washington State DB Bryce Beekman died of acute drug intoxication

The cause of death for Washington State defensive back Bryce Beekman has been revealed. 

The Whitman County coroner’s office announced Friday that Beekman died from an accidental drug overdose. Specifically, the cause of death was “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl and promethazine.” The death, which occurred on March 23 at Beekman’s off-campus apartment in Pullman, was ruled accidental. 

According to the CDC, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is approved “for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain.” It is “50 to 100 times more potent” than morphine and is a major cause of drug overdoses. Promethazine is an antihistamine used to treat allergies and motion sickness. It can also often be found in over-the-counter cough syrups that also contain codeine. 

No details of what specifically was found in Beekman’s system were revealed. 

Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said in a news release that the university was aware of the coroner’s findings. 

“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,” Chun said. 

Washington State defensive back Bryce Beekman was found dead on March 23. He was 22. (AP Photo/Young Kwak, File)

Beekman family seeking answers

Washington State also released a statement from the Beekman family. 

“We are extremely grateful for the national outpouring of love and support. 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,” the statement read in part. 

The family said it has been left with “many outstanding questions” following the coroner’s report. 

“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 family said. “As this important investigation continues, we respectfully request privacy for our family. 

“We are all grieving and wish to honor Bryce’s life right now. Like many college students, Bryce was looking forward to graduating and was excited about his future. 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.”

Beekman was starter at safety for Cougars

Police responded to a 5:44 p.m. call from the apartment that belonged to Beekman alleging the 22-year-old was having “breathing problems.” Beekman was found dead when first responders arrived. No foul play was suspected. 

Beekman was a starting safety for the Cougars. He was the team’s fifth-leading tackler in 2019 with 60 tackles in 13 starts. Beekman enrolled at Washington State in January 2019 after transferring from Arizona Western Junior College. He played the first three years of his high school career in Milwaukee before playing his senior season in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Former Washington State coach Mike Leach said in a tweet that Beekman was an “incredible kid.” First-year WSU coach Nick Rolovich said though their relationship was in “its early stages,” he found Beekman to be “a wonderful young man.”

“He was always positive and well respected amongst his teammates. My heart goes out to his family and friends,” Rolovich said.

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