Man dies in river; drowning likely but not confirmed

Humboldt Coroners Office

KIMTU – A 33-year-old Oregon man died on July 4 in the Trinity River near Willow Creek. The victim was identified this morning, July 7, by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office as Justin Russell Lawrence Bennich from Gladstone, Ore.

On Saturday, July 4 at about 3:40 p.m. the Hoopa Ambulance responded to the Kimtu area for a reported drowning. Upon arrival they were informed that a subject had become unresponsive in the water and had been brought to shore by witnesses at the location.

Resuscitation efforts were immediately started and the man was transported to Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata. Prior to arriving at the hospital, the man was declared deceased.

Due to conflicting witness statements, an autopsy was scheduled for today, July 7 to confirm the exact cause of death. The autopsy was completed but the results were inconclusive. Tissue and blood samples were taken for further analysis. It will be several weeks before the results of the additional analysis are known.

Though the exact cause of death is pending, the Coroner's Office does not suspect any criminal activity relating to this incident.

                                                                                    Ernie Stewart

                                                                                    Chief Deputy Coroner

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