Box's Death Ruled an Accident

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma state medical examiner's office came back with the results of the toxicology report on OU linebacker Austin Box, and it was determined that five prescription painkillers and an anti-anxiety drug were in his system when he passed away.

Those five painkillers were oxymorphone, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxycodone, and the anti-anxiety drug was alprazolam, according to the autopsy.

The mixing of those resulted in pulmonary edema, otherwise known as fluid in the lungs and aspiration pneumonia, which is the inflammation of lungs due to inhaling foreign substances, and resulted in his accidental death.

Box was found unresponsive inside a friend's El Reno home on the morning of May 19 and quickly transported by air to Mercy Hospital, but he just could not make it through.

Box, who was sidelined with a back injury for the first half of the 2010 season and battled other injuries throughout his career, was a huge factor in solidifying the Sooner defense down the stretch that paved the way to an unprecedented seventh Big 12 Championship.

He recorded 37 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, but perhaps his biggest play of the season was an interception in last year's Bedlam game.

With OU leading 30-24 halfway through the third quarter, Box anticipated OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden's read and picked him off, setting up OU for a crucial field goal.

Box had 107 tackles heading into his senior year.

His parents released this statement Monday night:

There is no greater pain than the loss of a child. The pain is intensified by knowing that the death of your child could have been prevented. Austin was a young man who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was grateful for his many talents, and felt he must always live up to his gifts. Two words he spoke often say so much, "Of course". It did not matter who was asking, whether it be a fan asking for an autograph, or simply a stranger wanting to talk — the response was a smile and "Of course." His greatest fear was letting down other people whether it was his teammates, coaches, friends, or family. In his twenty-two years of life, he never thought to complain because he felt he had been given so much.

Our son endured many injuries during the last seven years of his life, most of them required surgery. The last was the most frightening for him. In August of the 2010 season, he had a disc rupture in his back, and he lost the feeling in his left foot. We were certain his career was over. As always though, he battled back when he saw the team needed him. Willing his battered body back to the field where only the most elite do battle. It is with much sadness; we look back and see that recently Austin had turned to other methods of managing his pain. Methods that we hope if others are employing, they will see this tragic accident as a message and think about the consequences. Our greatest regret is that Austin did not feel he could share his pain with those who loved him, and those he touched. He chose to suffer in silence rather than to feel he let someone down, or hurt his family.

We will forever love, honor, and cherish his memory. Thank you to all of those who have shared stories about how Austin touched your lives in a positive way. We are comforted by the knowledge that God knows what is in a man's heart. Anyone that knew Austin would give testament to his pure heart. The love and pride we feel for our son cannot be diminished by the cause of his death. He gave us so much joy and so many wonderful memories. He will forever be "Mommy's baby" and "Daddy's little boy".

With much grief and sadness,

Craig and Gail Box


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