The cause of death for Ryan Ehrlich, known to many in Nevada City as “Garlic,” has been ruled an accidental fall from a tree.
Ehrlich was found under reportedly mysterious circumstances July 9, and his death left many in the community with questions.
But Nevada County Sheriff’s Deputy Coroner Rich Fevinger said there was no evidence of foul play or suspicious circumstances.
“The immediate cause of death was multiple blunt-force trauma injuries,” he said.
“The trauma was caused by falling from the tree. We estimated he fell 40 to 50 feet.”
Toxicology results are still pending, Fevinger said.
A woman, who has not been identified, had driven out to the area of Champion Road and Old Downieville Highway just before midnight when she heard a commotion, Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said at the time.
“She heard hollering, like a baby bear or baby animal, then she heard breaking branches,” Royal said.
“She turned on her headlights and saw a man lying in a fetal position on the ground.”
Ehrlich reportedly told her he had been sleeping in the tree and fell.
“He was acting bizarre,” Royal said.
“She asked him if he was OK.”
Ehrlich reportedly fell on the hood of her vehicle, then reached in through the window and grabbed the keys out of the ignition.
He then apparently got into the vehicle and sat on the woman’s lap, asking her for a hug and then asking for help.
At some point, the woman said, Ehrlich put his arms around her and then bit her on the arm.
“She started screaming, and then he went limp,” Royal said.
“She thought he was faking it.”
The woman managed to push Ehrlich out of her vehicle and drove back to Nevada City for help.
Deputies responded to the scene, but Ehrlich, 37, was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Fevinger said the accidental death ruling was based on several factors, including surveying the scene and the evidence found at the scene, as well as the witness’ statements.
“The investigation determined his injuries were consistent with him falling from a tree,” he said.
“We did take the family out there to the site because they had questions.”
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.