Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 12:58 am | Fair 58º


Local News

Coroner: UCSB Water Polo Player Nick Johnson’s Death Was ‘Accidental Drowning’

Nicholas Johnson

The Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office has made a preliminary determination that accidental drowning was the cause of death for UCSB water polo player Nick Johnson.

Johnson, 19, was found unresponsive Monday morning at the bottom of the pool at Santa Barbara High School, where he was practicing alongside the high school swim team.

The Santa Barbara Police Department hasn’t found anything suspicious in the case, Sgt. Riley Harwood said.

The Coroner’s Office is waiting on toxicological results, which is normal investigative procedure when a young, healthy person dies, said Lt. Butch Arnoldi of the Sheriff’s Department.

Results should take two weeks, and the preliminary finding is “accidental drowning,” he said

Johnson played on the UCSB water polo team since graduating in 2012 from Santa Barbara High, where he played on the varsity team.

A relentless athlete, he would train every day, whether or not the team was practicing, his father told Noozhawk.

His parents and three younger siblings are all struggling to make sense of his death.

He was well-loved in the community and there’s been incredible support for his family and efforts to keep his memory alive.

Johnson’s family has worked with Santa Barbara High School to set up a memorial fund where people can donate to the aquatics program in his name.

Every UCSB athletic team will wear “NJ” patches for the rest of the year, according to the Athletics Department. The baseball team will be wearing them starting at Friday’s game.

The family is also setting up some kind of scholarship program to honor his legacy.

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider adjourned Tuesday’s City Council meeting in Johnson’s name to honor him after his “untimely and tragic passing.”

He was a city employee in the junior lifeguards program for several years, and his brother Sam, a water polo player for Santa Barbara High and a club team, was playing in Santa Barbara’s sister city of Kotor, Montenegro, when he got the news, she said.

Check back later for an expanded version of this story.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >