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Owasso police say nonbinary student's death not due to physical injuries from school fight

Nex Benedict
Facebook photo
Nex Benedict

A 16-year-old Owasso High School student who died Feb. 8 after a fight at school did not pass away due to physical injuries, police said Wednesday.

This is an updated version of a developing story.

The Owasso Police Department issued a statement saying that while full results are pending, preliminary information from the medical examiner says Nex Benedict "did not die as a result of trauma."

The statement comes after days of intense attention on the death of the nonbinary student who was often the target of bullies, according to their mother.

Sue Benedict, the mother of Nex Benedict, said the family is expecting a report from the medical examiner to learn more about how Nex died. In a short interview Sue Benedict said that Nex collapsed at home after seeking medical attention for injuries sustained in a fight at school on Feb. 7, but that she is not certain yet how much that altercation contributed to Nex’s death.

Benedict said school staff didn’t call an ambulance and that medical professionals performed a cursory exam before discharging Nex.

Owasso Public Schools said in a statement released Tuesday that an ambulance was not deemed necessary for the less than two minute restroom altercation broken up by other students and staff, but "it was recommended to one parent that their student visit a medical facility for further examination" after a health assessment was conducted on each student.

OPS rebutted a circulating idea that Nex was unable to walk after the fight, saying that each student involved "walked under their own power" to the assistant principal and nurse.

OPS said "speculation and misinformation" have intensified in recent days.

"We understand that for many, additional questions remain, however these are the facts that we are able to communicate at this juncture. We will continue to cooperate fully with the Owasso Police Department’s investigation," the statement reads.

Nex was often the target of bullies, Benedict said. The family was still learning about Nex’s nonbinary identity and sometimes called them by their birth name at home. Benedict said the family is facing harassment and mounting misinformation as they try to cope with their grief.

“I just want my child back,” she said.

A GoFundMe raised almost $30,000 on behalf of the family, but contributions briefly ceased at Benedict's request because she said she was alarmed by a flood of misinformation, like untrue claims that Nex was stabbed. The fundraiser was reopened and has collected more than $55,000 as of Wednesday.

The Owasso Police Department said it was notified of Nex’s death after their second trip to the hospital on Feb. 8 when they were pronounced dead. Police emphasized that misinformation about the case is swirling and that an investigation is ongoing.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher
Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS.
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