Dr. Saturday

Toxicology report: Austin Box had five different painkillers in his system

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Austin Box

Nearly two months after Austin Box's death, toxicology shows the Oklahoma linebacker had five different types of painkillers in his system, which likely contributed to his untimely passing.

The family released the toxicology report and a statement to the press.

The probable cause of death was "pulmonary edema and aspiration pneumonia," but the presence of oxymorphone, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and alprazolam all contributed to the condition. The report also said Box suffered from an enlarged heart.

Box's parents, Craig and Gail, are having trouble coming to grips with Box's death because they didn't think their son was the type of person to become addicted to painkillers.

Less than 24 hours before his death, Box and his father had returned from a four-day trip to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals baseball team. Craig said he didn't recall his son taking anything stronger than liquid Advil. He also said his son hardly drank any alcohol during the trip.

Box had been through several injuries dating back to his high school days. He suffered a fracture in his back while weightlifting his freshman year of high school and a bulging disc that caused him to miss the first five games of Oklahoma's season last year. He also suffered a dislocated elbow while at OU, but his mother insisted that her son would not have taken pain meds for any longer than necessary.

Now the family is looking for the source of the drugs. Box died on May 19 while staying with a friend in El Reno, Okla. Both parents believe Box's death was an accident rather than a suicide.

"I am a guidance counselor at Enid High School and, yes, I see drugs and what it does to the young person, their attitude about school, their attitude about life, and I see them give up," Gail said. "I know the signs of drug use. It is not my job to diagnose but it is my job to refer someone when I suspect. And there have been many times when I have suspected and many times when I have referred. I have wracked my brain. Did I ignore signs? I don't know, but I do know that Austin was a silent sufferer."

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