Coroner issues cause of death for teen who died after being punched in face

EVERETT, Wash. -- The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office said Tuesday that the 18-year-old high school student who fell to the ground after being punched in the face died of blunt force injuries to the head.

The deceased was identified as Jarom Thomas, 18.

One of his classmates, 18-year-old  Michael Galen, was into custody following the death on suspicion of second-degree manslaughter. But as of Tuesday afternoon, no charges had been filed against Galen. And Galen had bonded out of jail.

"I'm really sorry for the family, their loss, I'm really sorry. If I could do something I would, OK? Please, I'm sorry," said Galen’s father, Mike Galen.

Outside the courtroom Monday, Galen’s family expressed their concerns for the victim and his family. Mike Galen said his son told him exactly what happened.

"Michael said to me, 'Dad, he was my friend, when he got in my face, he told me to hit him because of that.’ They were all drinking and things got out of hand," said Mike Galen

A little after midnight Sunday, the Thomas backed his Honda into a car outside of a house party in the 900 block of SW Lake Roesiger Road near Snohomish, sheriff's deputies said.

Thomas allegedly left the party, but returned a short time later. There, he was confronted by the 18-year-old Michael Galen, who was sitting in the car that was backed into by the Honda. Galen called Thomas a liar for not immediately admitting he backed into the car, and the two began to shove each other.

At some point, documents show, Thomas and the suspect agreed to "resolve their differences," by allowing Galen to punch the victim once in the face. The two shook hands and smoked a cigarette together. Then the victim -- a willing participant, witnesses told deputies -- stood in the road and let Galen take a swing.

Thomas was hit once on the left side of the face with a closed fist. He fell back and hit his head on the ground, where he laid unconscious.

The suspect and others at the party carried Thomas into the home and tried to wake him up. He was breathing, and was making grunting noises, document show, but did not come to.

After some time, a friend transported the victim to Providence Colby Hospital in Everett. He later died.

Both Thomas and Galen are from Lake Stevens and are students at Crossroads High School in Granite Falls. The two had known each other for years.

On Monday, nearly 100 students gathered at the high school to remember Thomas.

“Crossroads is a small school where the students and staff are very close and were able to come together to support each other through the emotional upheaval," said Bridgette Perrigoue, Crossroads High School Principal.

"We are trying to encourage the students to stay focused on the incredible time we spent with Jarom and the joy that he brought to our school.  We will continue to strive toward moving into that place of peace and acceptance.”

Galen was arrested Sunday and allegedly admitted to the punching. His father said he bonded out of jail and the family has hired an attorney.

Following the death, Galen received death threats via social media, deputies said.