MADRID — A Spanish judicial official said Thursday that the investigation so far into the death of a U.S. student on a term abroad whose body was found in a river suggests it was an accident.
A preliminary autopsy report shows Austin Bice, from Carlsbad, Calif., died of heart failure but that further tests are under way to determine the precise cause, according to the Madrid Superior Justice Tribunal official. He spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department rules.
The report did not specify whether the Bice drowned, but the official said that "everything indicates it was an accidental death." Drowning causes heart failure.
Bice's body was found Tuesday in Madrid's Manzanares River, near a nightclub where he was last seen Feb. 26.
Forensic experts are still awaiting the results of additional tests to determine the reason for the death, the official said.
Bice's father said Wednesday that he has not ruled out foul play in the death of his 22-year-old son, though police said they found no sign of it after Bice's body was spotted in a stretch of the slow-moving river that had been drained as part of the search.
Larry Bice also said he had not yet received autopsy results and that it could take weeks for a toxicology report to be completed.
Austin Bice was studying international business at Carlos III University and had been in Spain since January. Roommates had reported him missing after he failed to return home following a night out with friends.
Larry Bice said his son's friends said he had a few drinks but did not indicate he was drunk when they last saw him outside the club. Austin Bice never went into the club and instead said he was going to walk home, about a 45-minute trek in an area that appeared to be safe, Larry Bice said.
Larry Bice said he also cannot understand how his son would have fallen into the walled river and drowned. The river has thick walls dividing it from a pedestrian walkway and a park, and ladders from the river that rise up from the water to the walls.
Austin Bice, a former San Diego State University football player, was a good swimmer, his father said.
Alan Clendenning in Madrid and Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.