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Cause of death after bar fight unusual

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) - ­­­­­­­­­An autopsy on a Rhinelander man who died early New Year's Day after an altercation has been released.

­­­­­­­­­­48-year-old James R. Tanner died in the ambulance outside Sackett's bar on Brown Street in Rhinelander. Police Chief Michael Steffes said minutes before Tanner had allegedly thrown a punch at 62-year-old John A. Klucarich. Chief Steffes says a disc jockey at bar, 59-year-old Gregory Dryden, allegedly grabbed Tanner and directed him toward the bar then put him on the floor. Klucarich received less serious injuries.

Wednesday, Steffes says an autopsy found the cause of Tanner's death. "The preliminary autopsy results indicated that Mr. James Tanner had a fractured sternum and a part of the fractured sternum punctured his heart, causing his death.” Steffes adds, “We have completed our investigation into the altercation and we've submitted all police reports, witness statements to the District Attorney for his review and prosecution decision. We're encouraging anyone who witnessed the altercation that has not spoken to the police department to contact us as soon as possible so their witness statement can be included in that information." Steffes says callers can remain anonymous. ­­­­