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Gov. Kevin Stitt issues statement on death of 16-year-old nonbinary Owasso High School student

By Jonathan Greco

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    OKLAHOMA CITY (KOCO) — Gov. Kevin Stitt issued a statement on the death of Nex Benedict, the nonbinary student who died a day after a fight earlier this month at Owasso High School.

“Sarah and I are saddened to learn of the death of Nex Benedict, and our hearts go out to Nex’s family, classmates, and the Owasso community. The death of any child in an Oklahoma school is a tragedy — and bullies must be held accountable,” Stitt said in the statement. “As we await the results of the investigation, I urge Owasso Police and Owasso Public Schools to be forthcoming and transparent with the public.”

The news of Benedict’s death and the investigation has caught international attention. Their parents have set up a GoFundMe page to help Benedict’s family. As of Thursday, the page had raised more than $100,000.

According to police and Owasso Public Schools, students got into a fight on Feb. 7 in a bathroom at the school’s west campus. Other students in the bathroom, as well as a teacher supervising outside the restroom, broke up the fight.

Both police and the district say all students involved in the fight walked under their own power to the assistant principal’s office and the nurse’s office. They also say the school nurse recommended that Benedict visit a medical facility for further examination even though it was determined that an ambulance wasn’t required.

Later that day, a school resource officer went to Bailey Medical Center, where Benedict was being examined. The school resource officer spoke with Benedict and their parent about a fight at Owasso High School.

Police said before this report, they had not received information about a fight at the high school on Feb. 7.

Benedict was released from the hospital but had to be rushed back the next day before police said they were transported to the St. Francis pediatric emergency room, where they later died.

On Wednesday, Owasso police said preliminary information from a completed autopsy indicated that Benedict did not die as a result of trauma. While the investigation continues, police said, “preliminary information from the medical examiner’s office is that a complete autopsy was performed and indicated that the decedent did not die as a result of trauma.”

The lawyer for Benedict’s family says the family is independently interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence and searching for answers.

“The Benedict family calls on all school, local, state and national officials to join forces to determine why this happened, to hold those responsible to account and to ensure it never happens again,” the Biby Law Firm said in the statement.

The family also asks that all threats or acts of violence against students or staff at Owasso Public Schools stop.

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