Nearly one month after Bryce Beekman died in his Pullman apartment, the Whitman County Coroner’s Office confirmed the Washington State football player’s death was “accidental” and resulted from the “acute intoxication” of two separate drugs.
According to a media release from Coroner Annie Pillers, Beekman’s death stemmed from combining fentanyl, a severe pain reliever normally used to treat advanced cancer pain according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, and promethazine, commonly used for allergic reaction relief.
No other details were provided by the coroner’s office.
Beekman, a starting senior safety for WSU from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, died in Pullman on March 23, just days before the Cougars had been scheduled to begin spring camp.
Pullman Police reported to a call from Beekman’s residence at 5:44 p.m. that alleged the 22-year-old was suffering from “breathing problems,” but by the time responders arrived to the apartment, Beekman was already dead.
Originally, the Whitman County Coroner’s Office anticipated it would take “two to three” months to determine the cause of death, but the process was expedited and took just 31 days to complete.
According to the CDC website, fentanyl is “50 to 100” more times potent than morphine and often “prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges.” The website also says the drug can be diverted for “misuse and abuse” in the U.S. and many cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose or death are traced to illegally made fentanyl. The media release did not clarify whether the fentanyl Beekman used was prescribed or made illegally.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine website describes promethazine as something that’s used to treat allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic skin reactions and allergic reactions to blood or plasma products. It can also be used as a sedative for patients before and after surgery. The website also warns patients using promethazine the drug can cause breathing to “slow or stop.”
Despite restrictions around the novel coronavirus outbreak, Beekman’s family was able to travel to Pullman shortly after the death and meet with WSU football coach Nick Rolovich and athletics director Pat Chun while maintaining social distancing. The family planned to hold separate memorial services in Baton Rouge, where Beekman spent his senior year of high school, as well as his native Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A GoFundMe designed to support Beekman’s family has raised more than $31,000 and one of the player’s WSU teammates, nose tackle Dallas Hobbs, has created various sticker designs with Beekman’s name and number — all of the proceeds for the fundraiser going to Beekman’s family.