UPDATE: No Charges Filed in Rhinelander Bar Death

By: WSAW Staff Email
By: WSAW Staff Email
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UDPATE: Thurs 3:22 PM, Jan. 16, 2014

The Oneida County District Attorney says no charges will be filed against a man following an incident at Sackett's Bar in Rhinelander that resulted in the death of James Tanner.

Investigators said Tanner had a fractured sternum. A part of the fractured sternum punctured his heart causing his death.

The following is the release from District Attorney Michael Schiek:

The District Attorney has decided not to issue criminal charges against Gregory Dryden for an incident that occurred at Sackett’s Bar on New Year’s Day. District Attorney, Michael Schiek, determined that the evidence he has received does not support criminal charges.

I have had an opportunity to personally visit the scene, speak with responding officers, review all reports, along with witness statements, and review DVD recordings of interviews. I have met with Larry Mathein, Oneida County Medical Examiner, reviewed the preliminary autopsy report submitted by Forensic Pathologist Dr. Douglas Kelley, met with Rhinelander Police Chief Michael Steffes, Detective-Sergeant Joshua Chiamulera, and conferred with several prosecutors to discuss the investigation.

The investigation reveals the following circumstances surrounding the incident. John “Jake” Klucarich was standing in Sackett’s Bar. James R. Tanner punched Mr. Klucarich in the head with his fist, causing Mr. Klucarich to be knocked to the ground. There is no evidence to support that Mr. Tanner was provoked.

Gregory Dryden, employed as a karaoke disc jockey by Sackett’s, observed Mr. Tanner punch Mr. Klucarich. Mr. Dryden responded to the incident and intervened to stop Mr. Tanner from leaving the bar, continuing his assault on Mr. Klucarich or assaulting other patrons. In an effort to confine Mr. Tanner, Mr. Dryden gave Mr. Tanner a “bear hug” from behind. Mr. Dryden directed, pushed or slammed Mr. Tanner into the bar. Mr. Tanner was then directed or fell to the floor. Mr. Dryden then instructed the bartender to call the police.

Rhinelander Police Department responded along with EMS, who treated both Mr. Klucarich and Mr. Tanner. Oneida County Medical Examiner Larry Mathein was contacted by Oneida County dispatch when Mr. Tanner did not respond to EMS efforts. Mr. Tanner’s body was transported to Fond du Lac for an autopsy. Forensic Pathologist Dr. Douglas Kelley performed the autopsy and made the provisional autopsy findings. The cause of death was listed as acute pericardial tamponade, which was the result of a fractured sternum.

There was a potential prosecution for second degree reckless homicide; however, that would require that Mr. Dryden be aware that his conduct created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm. Again, witness statements do not support that conclusion. In addition, Mr. Dryden may have been privileged to intervene in defense of others, which is recognized as an affirmative defense in Wisconsin, pursuant to Section 939.48(4), Wis. Stats.

After carefully considering all of this information, the evidence does not support criminal charges. The incident was a tragic set of events that led to the death of Mr. Tanner.


UPDATE: Wed 1:47 PM, Jan. 8, 2014

The Rhinelander Police Department said in press release Wednesday, they have completed their investigation after one person died after a bar fight at Sackett’s on Dec. 31.

Police say a preliminary autopsy result indicated that James Tanner had a fractured sternum. A part of the fractured sternum punctured his heart causing his death.

All police reports, witness statements and evidence will be submitted to District Attorney Michael Schiek today for his review and prosecution decision.

Anyone that witnessed the altercation and has not spoken with the police is encouraged to contact the Rhinelander Police Department as soon as possible. Anyone with additional information about this crime or any other crime is urged to call the Rhinelander Police Department at 715-365-5300 to report any suspicious activity. Callers can remain anonymous.


UPDATE: Thurs 2:17 PM, Jan. 2, 2014

A autopsy is being being performed Thursday on a 48-year-old man who died following an altercation at a Rhinelander bar during a New Year's Eve celebration.

According to a release from the Rhinelander Police Department, James Tanner, 48 and John Klucarich, 62, were having a conversation in Sackett’s Bar.

Investigators say Tanner struck Klucarich to the face. Klucarich then fell to the ground.

Gregory Dryden, 59, attempted to subdue Tanner and grabbed Tanner and throwing his body into the bar.

Dryden then advised the bar owner to call 911.

Medical treatment was provided to Klucarich and Tanner. Klucarich was treated and released from St. Mary’s Hospital. Tanner died in the ambulance outside Sackett’s Bar.

It was unclear if criminal charges will be filed.

Anyone with additional information about this crime or any other crime is urged to call the Rhinelander Police Department at 715-365-5300 to report any suspicious activity. Callers can remain anonymous.

ORIGINAL STORY: Wed 10:23 PM, Jan. 1, 2014

One person is dead after an overnight altercation at Sackett's Bar in Rhinelander.

The Rhinelander Police Department says they responded to the bar on Brown Street around 12:30 a.m. for the report of an altercation.

Officers say two people were injured. One person was transported to Saint Mary’s Hospital and received treatment for his injuries. A 48-year-old-man died at the scene. A cause of death has not yet been released.

A witness tells NewsChannel 7 no weapon was involved. One person was attempting to break up a fight when the 48-year-old man fell to the ground. He was later pronounced dead.

The name of the victim is not being released at this time.

Stay with NewsChannel 7 for the very latest on this developing story.

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