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Santa Ana College baseball player's autopsy is inconclusive

The mystery surrounding the death of a Santa Ana College baseball player may not be solved for a number of weeks,  after an autopsy today failed to determine a specific cause of death, authorities said.

James Patrick WernkeThe body of James Patrick Wernke, 21, was found face down Tuesday in about 2 feet of water in a rain-swollen creek in Fullerton. Police said they have ruled out foul play.

The heavily-wooded creek was flooded from rainstorms several days earlier. Wernke was last seen Saturday in the 3000 block of Sunnywood Drive in Fullerton, walking his girlfriend's yellow Labrador retriever, according to friends and family members.

"There's no obvious cause of death," said John McDonald, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department and coroner's office.

He said investigators would have to await the results of a preliminary toxicology report, which will take several weeks to complete.

If a substance is found in Wernke's system that could have contributed to his death, McDonald said, then a full toxicology report would have to be conducted.

Family members have said that perhaps Wernke slipped and fell into the creek. 

The water was about 8-feet deep at the time, McDonald said.

Wernke was a pitcher on the team and was working toward a full athletic scholarship to Cal State Long Beach, friends said.

--Robert J. Lopez

Photo: James Patrick Wernke. Credit: KTLA.

Comments () | Archives (7)

The Toxicology will show If we chave lost another yet to bloom person as a result of Alcohol.If alcohol did play into this,then how can we treat it any different than any other recreational drug utilizied by insatiable Americans?They all when abused, misjudged,and kept secret destroy,yet this one (Devils Water) slips by constantly!

It's homicide until proven otherwise, how often does a 21 yr old athlete die while walking a dog, even if it was raining

dude was 21 and an athlete, to murder him without leaving a ton of evidence would require some pretty impressive ninja skills. you'd probably have a fight on your hands...and that would increase the chance for evidence. sucks either way. ):

I have to agree with meh meh. But I wanted to extend my condolences to the family. It's such a tragedy losing a young one, may peace be with the family.

You did read the article, right? Police have ruled out foul play. As to toxicology, why assume it's just for 'evil' alcohol? Any number of substances could affect someone, including prescription medication. Before passing judgement and lamenting the end of civilization as we know it, understand that sad things happen and any one of us could die doing what is an everyday activity.

Commiesmasher is spot on. Most people who die are not murdered.

My prayers go out to this poor man's family. It always sucks when a loved one is lost!

Why are people jumping to the conclusion that it was alcohol-related? At this point, there is no evidence to support that. It's sad that people feel the need to speculate about how he died rather than simply offer their condolences. His friends and family are surely devastated. Saying it "sucks" to lose someone doesn't really describe it. This is a tragedy.


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