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Lowndes High School student's death ruled accident

Posted at 12:23 PM, May 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-31 09:21:26-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) -- The death of a Lowndes High School student has officially been classified as an accident.

The body of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson was found in January of 2013 in the gym at Lowndes High School. Investigators say they believe Johnson died after he fell and got stuck inside of a rolled up wrestling mat.

Johnson's family members have been protesting the time it's taken to complete the investigation and last week were arrested after holding another protest at the Lowndes County Judicial Complex. They were charged with blocking the doors to the building. Johnson's family has been vocal, and critical of the investigation saying they believed there was could be more to the death.

Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine released new details Thursday after meeting with investigators from the sheriff's office, Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson, District Attorney J. David Miller and members of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

Sheriff Prine says Dr. Kris Sperry, Chief Medical Examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled Johnson's death as "accidental", saying he died as the result of positional asphyxia.

In a release to WTXL, Sheriff Prine says the ruling was determined on the findings of the investigation, physical evidence, forensic sciences and the autopsy.

Sheriff Prine says DNA samples were collected from the scene and investigators interviewed more than 100 people, including students, teachers and others.

At no time, Sheriff Prine said, did anything indicated anything other than this being "a tragic accident."