Authorities await lab results in 2 deaths |

Authorities await lab results in 2 deaths

Authorities still don’t know what caused two men to die in separate incidents earlier this year, as both determinations are dependent on lab results that could take months.

Steven Drews, 62, of Grass Valley, was found unresponsive on Feb. 26 in the 100 block of West McKnight Way. He was still alive when discovered, but died shortly after being transported to the hospital.

An autopsy performed several days after Drews’ death was inconclusive, according to Grass Valley police. The death was classified as suspicious due to signs of blunt force trauma to the head, and foul play could not be ruled out, said Sgt. Clint Bates.

The incident has not been officially classified either as a homicide or as an accident, as police await lab results from multiple agencies, Bates added.

In addition to seeking a toxicology report on Drews’ death from the Sheriff’s Office, the police department is also awaiting forensic analysis on the case from the state Department of Justice in Sacramento, as well as from an independent laboratory at California State University, Chico. Evidence analysis from the Department of Justice could take up to six months to be released, Bates said.

“They (the DOJ) have some forensic stuff — potential DNA, blood traces, latent print analysis, and other forms of trace evidence that they’re analyzing in this case,” he said.

Authorities also have no update in the investigation of the death of William Charles Snyder, 46, who was found dead on March 30 near the Fordyce Trail.

Snyder, who was from Tehachapi, had been reported missing one week earlier after his red Ford F-250 had been found close to the trail. The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation, is still unsure of why Snyder was in Nevada County prior to his death.

A toxicology report has been conducted on the death and is being analyzed by a forensic pathologist, according to sheriff’s Lt. Sean Scales. Snyder’s death is not classified as suspicious, but authorities will wait for the laboratory results before making any official determination, he added.

“In this kind of case we’re first looking for signs of foul play, then we’re contacting the decedent’s doctors, former doctors, the family members, and then we’re sending off the toxicology report to a forensic pathologist,” he said.

“At that point if there’s anything suspicious that comes up, then we do a full blow investigation into a crime.”

It will likely be several weeks before the Sheriff’s Office receives a full report on the incident from the forensics lab, Scales added.

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at


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