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Ore. DA to review Falcons' football camp incident

JPD sends investigation to Gold Beach police

Posted: August 5, 2013 - 5:43pm  |  Updated: August 6, 2013 - 12:04am

A police chief in Oregon plans to refer to the district attorney there a case involving a boxing match between a Thunder Mountain High School assistant coach and player at a summer football camp last year in Gold Beach, Ore.

Gold Beach Police Chief Dixon Andrews said he expected to have the reports given to the DA’s office by today.

“I fully expect at this point to review the reports myself and see if we need to do any additional follow-up,” Andrews said. “I think with as much time that has elapsed and the number of people interviewed I will just take the whole ball of wax and refer it to the district attorney.”

“I think we will have a resolution in a couple weeks,” he said.

The district attorney could decide to continue to pursue the case, or to drop it.

Juneau police conducted an initial investigation and interviews, which were sent to the Gold Beach Police Department.

“At this point the investigation is still open,” Juneau Police Det. Shawn Phelps said. “I assisted and did some interviews and put together the investigation on this end. Now we are just waiting to see if that is enough for them or if they want additional interviews or to look at some different things.”

A video of the boxing incident shows Wahl punching the player’s face, rendering him defenseless. The player appears to stagger away with his arms down as Wahl approaches from behind, throwing two more punches.

The final punch is an upper-cut that results in the player collapsing, partially on a thin mat and the flooring. The coach is shown raising his arms as others in the room cheer.

A Thunder Mountain administrator brought the video to the attention of Juneau police last April. It was not immediately clear how the administration discovered the video.

The City and Borough of Juneau hired a private firm to conduct an internal investigation into the incident per a request by Juneau School District Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich in April. Calls to City Manager Kim Kiefer concerning that investigation were not returned by press time.

The football camp incident resulted in then-head TMHS coach Bill Byouer, a P.E. teacher at Floyd Dryden Middle School, and assistant John Wahl, a math teacher at Floyd Dryden, being placed on administrative leave. The two did not finish the remainder of the school year and Byouer has since been replaced as Falcons coach.

Andrews said he interviewed the director of the football camp to find out the rules for teams and coaches that attend.

“As soon as the coaches get down here they are given a briefing,” Andrews said. “Ahead of time, they are sent all the rules of the camp, and the rules are no horseplay. The only things that can occur are sanctioned events. They don’t do boxing on the side, they don’t do wrestling and they don’t do gymnastics, whatever. The focus is football. The rules are reiterated when the coaches arrive. I would say it was not a sanctioned event, it appeared to be horseplay to me.”

Andrews said one would assume that even if it were a sanctioned event involving juveniles that a helmet and mouth protection would be worn.

TMHS assistant coach Brandon Mahle also was suspended initially. That suspension was lifted after interviews, and Mahle was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mahle is not on the TMHS football team coaching staff this season but has become director of coaches for the Juneau Youth Football League.

Contact Sports Editor Klas Stolpe at 523-2228 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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