TOLEDO – The teenager killed after falling from a ladder inside a wind turbine at Bellevue High School had alcohol in his system at the time, which contributed to the fall, according to an autopsy completed by the Lucas County Coroner’s office.
Ernesto W. Garcia, 17, was pronounced dead June 13 at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo after two teens reportedly loaded his unconscious body into a car at the high school and took him to Bellevue Hospital.
Deputy Coroner Dr. Maneesha Pandey wrote in the case summary that “Ernie Garcia died of blunt force trauma to head, neck and torso.” Pandey also determined ethanol intoxication was a significant condition in the incident and classified the death as accidental.
According to a toxicology screen completed by the coroner’s office, Garcia had a blood-alcohol level of 0.26 percent, more than three times the legal limit to drive in Ohio, 0.08 percent. Marijuana also was found in the body’s urine, as reported in the case summary.
The teen who attempted to climb the structure with Garcia told police they had shared a bottle of liquor Sunday evening and were both “pretty drunk,” according to the police report.
The 17-year-old told officers he met Garcia at the reservoir near Orchard Street on the east side of Bellevue and shared an entire bottle of liquor. He said Garcia probably drank more than he did.
After Garcia suggested climbing the wind turbine, the two of them found no lock on the door and they both began climbing the ladder, he said, with Garcia going up first.
Bellevue school officials told police that a door providing access inside the turbine is typically padlocked shut, though Garcia’s friend reported the door was not locked.
The teen told police Garcia fell off the ladder near the second platform inside the turbine, 60 to 80 feet above the ground, and nearly knocked him off the ladder as well. The friend said, after finding Garcia unconscious on the concrete floor, he called another teen who had been driving them around town earlier in the night.
After the second boy arrived, the two teenagers loaded Garcia’s unconscious body into the car and took him to Bellevue Hospital, they told police.
Bellevue Police Sgt. Mark Kaufman examined the scene and reported finding no lock in the area but did identify a tiny spot of blood at the base of the ladder.
In his report, Kaufman said Garcia’s mother and stepfather told him the teenager had been coming home with alcohol on his breath. The boy told them a 21-year-old was buying alcohol for him, but refused to disclose who, the parents told Kaufman.
School officials also provided police with a copy of a surveillance tape that showed a vehicle parking at the base of the turbine at 11:06 p.m. June 12. About four minutes later, the tape shows the vehicle leaving the area at a high rate of speed, police report.
Bellevue Hospital’s emergency room told police Garcia arrived at the hospital at 11:23 p.m.
The Huron County Prosecutor’s office told police charges of criminal trespassing and underage consumption of alcohol could be filed against the teen who climbed the ladder with Garcia. Bellevue police Capt. Matt Johnson said Tuesday no other charges have been filed against Garcia’s friend.
The autopsy was signed by Lucas County Coroner Dr. James Patrick after being completed July 22. It was completed in Lucas County because Garcia was pronounced dead in Toledo.