Issaquah High School student’s cause of death is pending

March 4, 2009

By Staff

NEW — 7:40 p.m. March 4, 2009

Nicholas W. Bethel, 17-year-old Issaquah High School student, died in Seattle March 3.

The cause and manner of his death are pending, according to officials at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

A cause of death could be days, weeks or months away, depending on the additional laboratory tests needed to make that determination, those officials said. Those tests can include microbial, neurological and toxicology tests, they said.

Bethel’s father called Issaquah High School officials March 3 to tell them of his son’s death after morning classes had started, said Karin Weihe, the high school’s resource officer.

School officials made no official announcement after Bethel’s father called, so the news passed through the student body by word of mouth, Weihe said.

“They tried to keep as much normalcy as they could,” she said.

Counselors were called from other schools to join counselors at IHS to talk with students and teachers and help them through their grief, according to Sara Niegowski, spokeswoman for the Issaquah School District. More than eight counselors were on hand to help students deal with the news, she said.

“Our entire campus is saddened by this loss of one of our students,” Principal Paula Phelps said. “It has become clear how many lives he impacted at Issaquah High. We are taking the time to ensure that all students and staff who need to grieve or remember their friend are able to do so in a safe environment with professional support.”

As a school resource officer, Weihe said, she had no discipline issues with Bethel.

Bethel’s friends said he loved to play baseball and that he had played on the school’s baseball team.

He played on the school’s team as a freshman but hadn’t played since, Weihe said.

The following note was sent to the school community via the district’s e-news system late March 3:

Dear Issaquah High Community:

We began our school day with the sad and unexpected news that one of our students died last night. The entire Issaquah High School community hurts from the loss. There is a chance your child will feel unsettled, at the least, tonight and in the coming days.

To prepare our campus for the impact of this sad news, we requested extra counseling support from nearby high schools and created a safe room where any student or staff member could go to process their feelings and receive help. We individually notified students and adults with close relationships with the student, and we alerted the entire staff via e-mail.

We will continue to have extra counseling support available, so please encourage any students who show signs of grief to visit the counseling center. A significant change in any of these physical or emotional behaviors might be an indication:


Anger, irritability



Numbness, indifference, detachment






Do not hesitate to call our counseling center at 425-837-6140 for guidance or more information – we want all of our students to have the support they need during this sorrowful time.

We want to respect the privacy and grieving process of the student’s family, and it is not in our purview to share details. Our thoughts are with them.


Paula Phelps

Principal, IHS

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2 Responses to “Issaquah High School student’s cause of death is pending”

  1. kyle bernal on March 4th, 2009 8:41 pm

    nick was a teamate on my summer team and this has really shocked me and all his teammates. we would like to attend his funeral. nick was a great ball player and most of all a good person. i will miss you nick…… you were a great guy, teamate, friend, and brother.

  2. Taylor bailey on March 5th, 2009 12:15 am

    Nick Bethel is my everything, my true love, my best friend, and my world. I feel him with me now.

    I miss him so much.
    He is with me now, behind me with his arm wrapped around me, keeping me safe.

    With love, his girlfriend and best friend, Taylor Bailey

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