Nault’s family wants answers

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  • SHAWN GUST/Press file From left, Reggie Nault’s father, Andy Nault; his wife, Patti; Kodi Anderson, the step-sister of Reggie; and family friends Erica Powell and Emily Hayes grieve in the dugout of the Coeur d’Alene High School baseball field on July 22, 2015.

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    Nault

  • SHAWN GUST/Press file From left, Reggie Nault’s father, Andy Nault; his wife, Patti; Kodi Anderson, the step-sister of Reggie; and family friends Erica Powell and Emily Hayes grieve in the dugout of the Coeur d’Alene High School baseball field on July 22, 2015.

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    Nault

COEUR d'ALENE — A year and half after a popular Coeur d'Alene High baseball player drowned in Lake Coeur d'Alene, his mother and sister still don’t know exactly what happened.

They contend, through court documents, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office has withheld information from the family about what transpired the day 16-year-old Reggie Nault drowned in Lake Coeur d'Alene on July 21, 2015.

"On Aug. 12, 2016, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department provided (Nault's mother Brandi Jones and sister Dasha Hunter) a heavily redacted report with so much information redacted that it was impossible to ascertain the full meaning of the document," states the petition to First District Court filed by attorney Lee James. Redacting means blocking out words, sentences or paragraphs.

The documents states no other evidence collected by the KCSO has been provided to the family.

"Such evidence known to (Jones and Hunter) to exist includes cellphone records, text messages and other documents and information that may provide critical information regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding Reggie's death," the petition states.

James said by uncovering the facts and circumstances of that day, Jones and Hunter could better understand and process Nault’s death. They'd also find out if anything can be learned from the tragedy to help other children and families of Kootenai County avoid similar tragedies. Further, they could determine what, if any, legal rights they have from the death.

The document states repeated attempts to obtain additional information have been turned down. A copy of the redacted sheriff's office report was submitted to the court with the petition.

"(Jones and Hunter) have a right to learn the facts and circumstances surrounding the events of their child's and brother's death," the document states.

KCSO Sheriff Ben Wolfinger on Wednesday told The Press he hasn't seen the court document and, even if he had, he couldn't comment, citing pending litigation.

Nault was with two male juvenile friends when he either fell or jumped from a fast-moving boat without a life jacket, according to the KCSO. Nault's body was recovered from the lake on Aug. 3, 2015. Alcohol intoxication was a condition related to Nault's accidental death, and the cause was asphyxia due to a freshwater drowning, according to the coroner's report released Oct. 23, 2015.

"There are still unanswered questions and important details we do not know," James said. "Where did the alcohol come from? Who gave it to the boys? Why was the operator of the boat not tested for alcohol in his system? If an adult furnished alcohol to the minors, why was he or she not prosecuted?

"If a minor was operating a boat under the influence of alcohol when his passenger fell or jumped, why was he not tested or cited? Who did the boys text, email or call during the critical time periods? Who contributed to this dangerous recipe for teenage tragedy?"

James said Nault was an excellent swimmer so there are also questions why he didn't survive the fall or jump from the boat.

After the KCSO completed its investigation of the case in January 2016, the Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office forwarded the case to Boundary County the next day due to Prosecutor Barry McHugh having a conflict of interest in the case. In July 2016, Boundary County decided not to file criminal charges in the case.

"This accident was and remains a horrible tragedy," Boundary County Prosector Jack Douglas said in a press release. "Clearly, it has affected the families involved, and the community at large, in a profound way. However, based upon my review of this event and applicable Idaho law, I have determined that no criminal act can be shown to be a direct cause of Mr. Nault's death."

A civil lawsuit has not been filed, but James said one may or may not be, based on additional information that's obtained.

"They are not seeking money with the filing of this petition," James said. "They are seeking information that's being withheld from them."

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