Spain: Death of Austin Bice probably accidental - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Spain: Death of Austin Bice probably accidental

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Local resident Manuel Calderon, a retired military engineer, right looks over into the river Manzanares beside a memorial of flowers and candles for U.S. student Austin Bice, in Madrid March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul White) Local resident Manuel Calderon, a retired military engineer, right looks over into the river Manzanares beside a memorial of flowers and candles for U.S. student Austin Bice, in Madrid March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul White)
This is a recent but updated family photo showing Austin Bice. (AP Photo/Courtesy Bice Family) This is a recent but updated family photo showing Austin Bice. (AP Photo/Courtesy Bice Family)

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish judicial official says the investigation into the death of a U.S. exchange student whose body was found in a river suggests it was an accident.

The Madrid Superior Justice Tribunal official says a preliminary autopsy report shows Austin Bice, from Carlsbad, Calif., died of heart failure but that further tests are under way to determine the precise cause. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department rules.

The report does not specify whether the 22-year-old Bice drowned, but the official said Thursday that "everything indicates it was an accidental death." Drowning causes heart failure.

Bice's body was found Tuesday in Madrid's Manzanares River, near a nightclub where he was last seen Feb. 26.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

This is the latest information. The previous story is below.

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — The father of California college student whose body was pulled from a river in Madrid said Wednesday that he has not ruled out foul play in his son's death.

Larry Bice spoke to reporters outside his home in Carlsbad only hours after he returned from Madrid, where he spent a week searching for his son, 22-year-old Austin Bice, who was reported missing 10 days ago after going out on the town. His body was found Tuesday near the Madrid nightclub where he was last seen.

Police said they found no signs of foul play after Bice's body was spotted in a stretch of the slow-moving Manzanares River that had been drained as part of the search for the San Diego State University student on a semester abroad in Madrid.

Forensic experts performed an autopsy Wednesday on the body but said it could take weeks before the result is known, a judicial official said.

Larry Bice said Wednesday morning he had not received autopsy results yet and that he understood it could take weeks for the toxicology report to be finished.

Austin Bice was studying international business at Carlos III University and had been in Spain since January. Roommates had reported him missing after he failed to return home following a night out with friends.

Larry Bice said his son's friends said he had a few drinks but did not indicate he was drunk when they last saw him outside the club. Austin Bice never went into the club and instead said he was going to walk home, about a 45-minute trek in an area that appeared to be safe, Larry Bice said.

"He told me before, 'I don't want to be that American that tries to be the life of the party,'" his father said, adding that it was not in his son's character to be stumbling drunk.

Larry Bice said he also cannot understand how his son would have fallen into the walled Manzanares River across the street from the club and drowned. The river has ladders along it, and Austin Bice, a former San Diego State University football player, was a good swimmer, he said.

Larry Bice said it has been frustrating because Spanish police have not been forthcoming with their information, but he trusted they were being "diligent" in their investigation.

In Spanish cases in which investigations determine that no one else had a role in the death, the results are almost always kept secret and forwarded only to the family to protect the privacy of the victim, the spokesman said.

It will be up to the judge handling the case to determine whether the findings of the autopsy are made public, said a spokesman for Madrid's Superior Justice Tribunal who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department rules.

The initial results of the autopsy, which concluded around 2.30 p.m. (1330 GMT), will be forwarded to the judge and to Bice's family, said a spokeswoman for the Madrid regional government's justice and interior department. She also spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

Any further tests ordered by the forensic experts, such as toxicology tests, could take up to three weeks to come back, the officials said.

Bouquets of flowers were placed Wednesday near where Austin Bice's body was found, along with candles and a picture of him glued on a makeshift American flag with the words: "Murdered in Madrid. Americans Demand Justice!!!"

There was nothing to indicate who had placed the sign there, and retired military engineer Manuel Calderon said he thought it was premature for people to conclude it was homicide.

But Calderon, 78, agreed it was puzzling how Bice might have fallen into the river because the 3 foot- (1 meter-) wide stone wall separating the long stretches of the walkway from the water.

"I just don't understand it. Maybe he was lying or sitting on top the wall and somehow fell in," said Calderon.

Calderon and other residents said the area is very safe, even long after midnight, and that young adults heading home from nights out on the town frequently walk along the river in the park because crime isn't a problem. None could remember anyone ever falling into the river.

Family members and friends said Bice was enjoying his time in Madrid. He posted glowing reports on his blog touching on themes ranging from Spanish food, to a trip to Valencia, his initial difficulty with Spanish, heavy homework assignments and Madrid's vibrant nightlife.

"We hope we get some answers soon," Larry Bice said.

_____

Ciaran Giles and Alan Clendenning in Madrid contributed to this report.

 

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. Read AP's earlier story below.

 

MADRID (AP) — Forensic experts performed an autopsy Wednesday on the body of a California college student pulled from of a Madrid river, but it could take weeks before the result is known, a judicial official said.

It will be up to the judge handling the case to determine whether the findings of the autopsy for 22-year-old Austin Bice are made public, said a spokesman for Madrid's Superior Justice Tribunal who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department rules.

The initial results of the autopsy, which concluded around 2.30 p.m. (1330 GMT), will be forwarded to the judge and to Bice's family, said a spokeswoman for the Madrid regional government's justice and interior department said. She also spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

Any further tests ordered by the forensic experts, such as toxicology tests, could take up to three weeks to come back, the officials said.

In Spanish cases where investigations determine that no one else had a role in the death, the results are almost always kept secret and forwarded only to the family to protect the privacy of the victim, the spokesman said.

Police said they found no signs of foul play after Bice's body was spotted in a stretch of the slow-moving Manzanares River that had been drained as part of the search for the San Diego State University student on a semester abroad in Madrid.

He had been missing since Feb. 26 after saying goodbye to friends outside a nightclub several few hundred meters (yards) from the place in the river where his body emerged.

Bice, from Carlsbad, California, was studying international business at Carlos III University and had been in Spain since January. Roommates had reported him missing after he failed to return home following the night out.

The site where Bice's body was pulled from the river borders a pedestrian walkway and a park. Bouquets of flowers had been placed there Wednesday, along with candles and a picture of Bice glued on a makeshift American flag with the words: "Murdered in Madrid. Americans Demand Justice!!!"

There was nothing to indicate who had placed the sign there, and retired military engineer Manuel Calderon said he thought it was premature for people to conclude that Bice was a homicide victim.

But Calderon, 78, said it was also difficult to understand how Bice might have fallen into the river because a three foot- (one meter-) wide stone wall separates long stretches of the walkway from the water.

"I just don't understand it. Maybe he was lying or sitting on top the wall and somehow fell in," said Calderon.

Calderon and other residents said the area is very safe, even long after midnight, and that young adults heading home from nights out on the town frequently walk along the river in the park because crime isn't a problem. None could remember anyone ever falling into the river.

Family members and friends said Bice was enjoying his time in Madrid. He posted glowing reports on his blog touching on themes ranging from Spanish food, to a trip to Valencia, his initial difficulty with Spanish, heavy homework assignments and Madrid's vibrant nightlife.

 

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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