Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Autopsy inconclusive in Bellevue death

Alternative school reels from studentís passing

Express Staff Writer

Staff and students at Silver Creek Alternative School selected this photo of William Andrew Glahn to send to the Idaho Mountain Express. School Director Barge Levy said most photographs taken of Glahn show him laughing or smiling, but staff and students decided this one best represented his personality. Photo by

The cause of death of a Bellevue teenager last week remains a mystery after an autopsy didn't find what killed William Andrew Glahn.

Blaine County Coroner Russell Mikel said Tuesday that there was nothing apparent in the autopsy and authorities are now waiting for a toxicology report, which could take up to six weeks.

Glahn, an 18-year-old junior at Silver Creek Alternative School, was found dead shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, at his home on Sixth Street in south Bellevue.

A friend staying at the same home the evening Glahn died was rushed to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center after he became ill a few hours later. The friend, identified by the Bellevue Marshal's Office as 18-year-old Riley Andrada, who lived in the Gannett area, was treated and held overnight at the hospital before being released Friday.

Investigators were unable to say if Glahn's death and Andrada's illness are related.

Carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty water heater was originally suspected as a cause, but investigators are now skeptical of that explanation.

"There was some carbon monoxide present in the house," Mikel said. "The carbon monoxide didn't seem strong enough to cause death, so we're looking at other possible causes."

Glahn's death was a shock to staff and students at Silver Creek Alternative School.

School Director Barge Levy said Glahn was a well-liked student who had adapted well to the Alternative School environment, whereas he had struggled academically and socially in a traditional school setting.

"I really can't put into words the loss I feel," Levy said. "He was just a wonderful young man with a future. I don't think this young man was capable of hurting himself."

The autopsy was conducted Friday in Boise at the Ada County Coroner's office by staff forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Garrison.

Bellevue Marshal Ron Taylor declined to speculate on a cause of death. He said there was no sign of foul play, nor was there any "apparent indication of drug use."

Wood River Fire and Rescue was called to the home at about 7:50 a.m. last Thursday. Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Nevins said Glahn was dead when the ambulance crew arrived and had likely been that way for several hours.

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Nevins said no one else at the home seemed ill at that time, including Andrada.

Wood River Fire and Rescue was called again to the home at 10:30 a.m. on a report that Andrada had suffered a seizure. Nevins said a "high level" of carbon monoxide was found in Andrada's blood by tests done at the hospital.

Carbon monoxide levels were then tested in the home and a faulty gas water heater was identified as leaking the substance. However, Nevins said the scenario that unfolded in the home was inconsistent with carbon monoxide poisoning.

"We think in terms of carbon monoxide poisoning when there's more than one person sick at the same time," Nevins said. "It's not that selective. You don't end up with one person dead and everyone else moving around."

Nevins said part of the ambulance crew stayed at the home checking and comforting the family after Glahn's body was discovered and none of them suffered any ill effects.

The Alternative School is a close-knit group with a staff of five and only 22 students. Levy said the entire school was grieving Glahn's death and will dedicate today's graduation ceremonies to him.

He described Glahn as one of the school's success stories.

"When he came here, he was very low in self-esteem," Levy said. "We got him back on track and he was able to develop as a mature adult person. He made a huge improvement in academics. He was really bright. He was definitely going to college or trade school.

"You would have liked this kid. He was really a character and lots of fun to be around. He was just a great kid.

"You know, I've been here a long time, and this is the first time something like this has happened."

Terry Smith:

Funeral Services

Services for William Andrew Glahn are scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at graveside in the Bellevue Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Wood River Chapel in Hailey. Viewing will be held at the chapel from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. today, May 27, and from 10 a.m. until noon Thursday.

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