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Correction officer’s death followed incident with boy

Courtney Astolfi • Oct 30, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Biecheler, 33, was involved in an incident at work just hours before he was found dead in his Huron home, at about 6 p.m. Monday.

Nine hours earlier, he was at work when he helped three corrections officers escort a 16-year-old boy to another part of the detention center, Erie County Chief Deputy Jared Oliver said. The boy was upset because his mother didn’t show up for visitation, and he told corrections officers they would have to carry him if they wanted him to move.

In surveillance video from the detention center, Biecheler is seen kneeling as he turns the child onto his back. He’s then seen taking hold of the boy’s right shoulder, helping his three co-workers carry the boy to a cell.

“It did not look turbulent,” Oliver said. “It was more passive resistance.”

At no point is the boy seen hitting Biecheler. Shortly after the incident, Biecheler started to feel ill and began coughing, Oliver said.

Biecheler went to the detention center’s nurse, who gave him a dose of cough syrup and recorded his vitals. At some point, a supervisor heard Biecheler vomiting in a restroom, Oliver said, and the nurse told him he should go to the hospital. Biecheler then told co-workers he was leaving for the hospital. He clocked out at 9:53 a.m.

At about 6 p.m., detention center staff realized Biecheler took home a set of keys they needed for the facility. A relative went to Biecheler’s home to check on him and found him unresponsive. Huron police arrived at the scene, and Erie County coroner Brian Baxter later pronounced him dead.

Biecheler had diabetes, which may have contributed to his death, Baxter said. His body was sent to the Lucas County coroner’s office for an autopsy, the results of which are expected back today.

Biecheler’s mother, Kathy Biecheler, was unaware of any recent medical issues, although about 18 months ago he was diagnosed with diabetes. Biecheler worked at the detention center for the past decade.

“He’s been his usual happy-go-lucky self,” Kathy said. “He had a yearly physical in the last month or two, and there were no problems.”

Erie County juvenile court Judge Robert DeLamatre said detention center employees encounter a fair share of hands-on interaction where they have to restrain an unruly child.

“Hands-on contact (with inmates) isn’t a daily thing, but it happens frequently enough to be somewhat normalized,” DeLamatre said. “The way it was described to me, (Monday’s incident) wasn’t something that raised a huge injury concern. From that same standpoint, though, it’s awful coincidental and seems to at least indicate a certain level of stress and physical exertion. I think the autopsy has to fill in those blanks for us.”

Despite questions surrounding Biecheler’s death, his mother was quick to speak of his love for the job.

“It’s all he wanted to do, he had a passion for it,” she said. “His family meant everything to him, his wife meant everything to him, he loved law enforcement.”

Biecheler was a 1998 Margaretta High graduate and also a graduate of EHOVE’s police academy. He worked as a Cedar Point police officer before getting his job at the detention center, and he also worked part-time as a Monroeville police officer.

“He’s going to be missed by everybody,” Kathy said.

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