Police report sheds light on Tyler Sash's death

Andrew Logue

An aching and sometimes disoriented Tyler Sash died at his home as loved ones held concerns for his well-being, according a report by the Oskaloosa Police Department.

The investigation report, released Wednesday to The Register, sets a timeline for Sash’s death in September, beginning with a call to the Mahaska County 911 Center at 9:49 a.m. on Sept. 8.

The state medical examiner released autopsy findings Monday, citing the cause of death as "an accidental mixed drug toxicity involving methadone and hydrocodone." Sash, according to the police report, had been suffering from shoulder pain caused by a recent fall and anxiety.

Sash was discovered on Sept. 8 by his mother, Barnetta, who went to a neighbor's house for help. She had visited her son’s home the night before and saw him lying on a couch. When Barnetta returned the following morning, she discovered Sash dead on the couch. Police arrived at Sash's residence at 719 Fox Run Dr. in Oskaloosa at about 10 a.m.

According to the police report, there were bottles of Gatorade and other non-suspicious items found at the scene. Sash had a blanket covering him and the television was on.

Barnetta Sash told police her son had seemed disoriented, wasn’t sleeping well and had been dealing with allergies.

Sash’s girlfriend, Heather Dickinson, told police he had injured his shoulder after falling from a ladder. Barnetta told police that one of Tyler’s shoulders had been out of place and a sister helped him reset it.

Sash’s girlfriend also told investigators he had seemed disoriented in the days leading up to his death.

Barnetta Sash told police her son told her he was taking anxiety medications.

Woody: 'Rest in peace, Tyler Sash. Every piece of you'

She visited his home the night before to take Tyler’s dog to the dog park and saw him sleeping on a couch. Barnetta said she did not want to disturb him, because he had been having trouble sleeping.

She took the dog for about an hour, then returned. Sash was still on the couch, and she again did not want to disturb him.

When Barnetta returned the following morning, Sash was still on the couch. She checked on him and found that he was dead.

Dickinson told police she spent Sept. 6 with Tyler at his parent’s house. They returned to Sash’s home that evening, before Dickinson left between 8 and 8:30 p.m.

Dickinson sent Sash a text 9:09 p.m. the following night, but he never responded.

Sash earned all-Big Ten honors while playing for the Hawkeyes, starting 37 games from 2007-10. He was also a member of the New York Giants’ Super Bowl championship season of 2011.

Sash was later suspended four games by the NFL after testing positive for Adderall, which is often used to treat attention deficit or hyperactivity disorders, as well as sleep disorders.

Methadone and hydrocodone -- the lethal combination examiners cited in his death -- are used to relieve pain.

“Those drugs are classified as opiates,” associate state medical examiner Jonathan Thompson said. “They are prescription pain medications. And they cause respiratory depression.

“Even the very smallest dose, in all cases, causes respiratory depression.”

Additional examinations will take place to see if Sash suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly known as CTE, or other brain injuries.

Those results will not be available for eight to 12 months