Medical examiner: man missing near Rainey St. died of accidental drowning

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday, the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office released the autopsy report for the death investigation of Martin Gutierrez, 25.

The autopsy report shows that the ME found the cause of Gutierrez’s death was drowning, the manner of his death was an accident. 

Despite this report, Gutierrez’s family tells KXAN they don’t believe his death was accidental. They are still unclear about what happened in the early morning hours when he disappeared and how his body wound up in the lake. 

Gutierrez was reported missing on November 19, 2018 and was last seen on Rainey Street in downtown Austin where he had been out with friends. 

Gutierrez’s family and friends canvassed the downtown area with an extensive, week-long search. Then on Monday, November 26, a caller to 9-1-1 reported someone in the water on Lady Bird Lake near 1300 Riverside Drive. First responders found a body floating in the lake.

The next day, the Austin Police Department and family confirmed the body was Gutierrez. 

Gutierrez was from Big Spring,Texas and a graduate of Texas Tech University. After graduating, he moved to Austin and lived with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend.

The autopsy report 

The medical examiner’s office found that there was a bruise on the lower part of Gutierrez’s head, but no skull fracture or brain injuries.  This injury was listed as “blunt force trauma of the head,” and the ME’s office noted that he had bruising on his scalp. 

They also found generalized swelling in his brain and chest cavities. 

The report stated that Gutierrez had his ID and his banking cards on him when he was found. It added that he was a proficient swimmer, with no history of seizure disorder and no history of illicit or prescription drug use. 

The ME’s office reported that they found alcohol in his blood, but no prescription drugs. 

Mitchell Gutierrez, Martin’s older brother and roommate, explained that a doctor with the ME’s office told him Monday that because his brother’s body had been underwater for so long, it was breaking down and it is possible that other substances could have been in his system and released from his body, undetected by this autopsy report. 

“I do not think this was an accident,” Mitchell Gutierrez maintains.  

Because it took many days to find Martin’s body, Mitchell said he feels there is still a possibility that how long his brother was in the water skewed the autopsy results. 

“The worst part was, knowing that he was underwater, drowned, and that he was by himself,” Mitchell said. 

Mitchell believes someone intentionally hurt his brother, perhaps at one of the several bars he went to that night. 

“I know my brother and I know somebody did something to him, nothing will change my mind,” Mitchell said. “Somebody did something to him, and hopefully, we will find an answer sometime.”

“Before this, I wouldn’t think anything about other people and their stories, and now that’s all I can think about, is how much that happens on a daily basis,” he said. 

Police officers he’s spoken to about Martin’s case have told him that sometimes people behind malicious attacks will brag about what they’ve done, Mitchell believes someone hurt his brother and he hopes that whoever it is slips and starts talking about it. 

Mitchell said he and his family are still looking for answers about how his brother died. 

“At this point, I have zero hope for anything,” he said. 

Mitchell said that the past few months waiting for these autopsy results have been exhausting.

“It’s been a lot for my family, friends, all of us who knew my brother,” he said. 

The disappearance

On November 18, Martin had gone out with friends on Rainey Street in the evening.

His family members previously told KXAN that he had gone to Lustre Pearl and purchased one drink (according to his bank records, family members say), then went with his friends to the Alibi, a bar next door. 

The Alibi told KXAN that staff at the bar refused to serve Martin alcohol because he seemed intoxicated and was acting strangely. The manager of Alibi told KXAN he didn’t see anything suspicious in the surveillance videos, but did see Martin hanging out with his friends. 

Martin was later seen on surveillance video leaving the bar at 1:15 in the morning and running south down the street. Family members said Martin parted from his friends then and was looking for a ride home at that time. 

A short time later, Martin was seen on a business’ surveillance video at Holly Street near Rainey Street, heading towards I-35. 

Martin’s family members said the way he was behaving in the videos was out of character for him. His brother told KXAN back in November that it almost appeared as though his Martin was frolicking in the surveillance video, which was totally unlike him.  

Both Lustre Pearl and the Alibi said they could not share their surveillance video with KXAN because they had already turned it over to police. APD said these videos could not be shared with KXAN until the case is closed. 

Mitchell Gutierrez still believes that foul play was involved in his brother’s disappearance and death. 

Last week Austin Police told KXAN that there are no indications of foul play in this case and that they had no new information at that time. . 

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