DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE, Alaska (AP) — Northern Arizona football player Michael DeGroote died after apparently shooting himself with a gun while vacationing with his family in Alaska.
The 22-year-old DeGroote died Tuesday at a campground at Denali National Park and Preserve. Park spokeswoman Kathleen Kelly says an investigation is under way to try to determine if the shooting was accidental or deliberate, but adds the answer may never be known.
Kelly says the family is adamant that the shooting was accidental. Park officials say DeGroote was visiting the park with his father, but the father was not present when the shooting occurred.
A family spokesman earlier confirmed to the university that DeGroote died Tuesday in Alaska, though no other details were given.
“The entire NAU Athletics Family is deeply saddened by the loss of Michael,” NAU coach Jerome Souers said in a statement. “He was a well-respected young man that I was proud to have as a part of our program. Our time with Michael was cut short, but he will always be a Lumberjack. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
A senior tight end/fullback, DeGroote graduated from Fountain Hills High School in Scottsdale and attended Scottsdale Community College before transferring to NAU in 2013.
DeGroote did not play in 2013 but was the Lumberjacks’ backup fullback and played on special teams last season.
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