Mother of Wisconsin Teen Soccer Player Who Jumped From I-43 Overpass Believes He Had CTE

denny oechsner

GoFundMe Denny Oechsner with his dad.

The mother of the 17-year-old Cedarburg, Wisconsin, teenager who jumped from a freeway overpass on I-43 had CTE from playing soccer, his mother believes.

That’s according to an emotional letter that she wrote a Facebook community page.

However, the Washington County medical examiner said it’s not possible to verify whether Denny Oechsner had CTE from the autopsy. “CTE can be diagnosed through an autopsy, but due to the traumatic injuries in this case it could not be,” Interim Ozaukee County Medical Examiner Mary Davis said to the Ozaukee Press, which reported that the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office performed the autopsy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) “is a brain disorder likely caused by repeated head injuries. It causes the death of nerve cells in the brain, known as degeneration. CTE gets worse over time. The only way to definitively diagnosis CTE is after death during an autopsy of the brain.”

The Sheriff’s Department wrote in a statement posted to the department’s Facebook page that it’s believed the teenager intentionally jumped onto the freeway from the overpass, where he was then struck and killed by a semi.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Oechsner’s family. It indicates he was a soccer player.

Here’s what you need to know:

Denny Oechsner’s Mom Wrote That He ‘Suffered From Too Many Sports-Related Concussions,’ Including Recent Head Trauma in Soccer

denny oechsner

GoFundMeDenny Oechsner with his dad.

The Facebook page “What’s happening in Oz? Ozaukee County Community Alerts Police Fire EMS Etc” reprinted a message it said was from Denny’s mother in which she blamed CTE for the tragedy. You can read that in full here.

The post says in full:

I just got the most beautiful, well written message from Denny’s Mom. I don’t know Heather personally but she has a beautiful soul. I was going to paraphrase and just give an update but I feel like her message should be shared in full. I would never do it, or Denny, the justice they deserve.

Denny is my son. He suffered from too many sports related concussions and more recent head trauma in soccer the past week.

He had a rock solid friend group, parents and two brothers who engage and support him tremendously. A loving, tight knit school at living word and an absolute star on the soccer field. A baptized and confirmand in the Lutheran church and 2parents who are teachers at his own high school and shower support on him and a happy, giggly, lovable kid. Depressed? Not so much. In pain and a stressful week? Yes. In more head pain than we knew from his latest hit. And he was concussed and we are 100% certain CTE took his life. Denny was going to end his soccer career and rest his head after this fall, his senior year after he had one chance to play with his little brother, an incoming freshman. Their dream to play together.
If you want people to simply know he had a brain injury than please do so.

As far as the man, we know about him and he will become a part of our life in the weeks to come in a very real and emotional way and we will be giving him a portion of the money no doubt about it.

Denny was loved, raised and cared for and loved some more and thousands of people across the country know that because he has many many personal connections. He was looking for heaven that day to escape the damage in his brain. He was raised to know and love heaven and that Jesus is there.

My boy.

My beautiful boy.

Thank you for listening. An avid follow myself and appreciate what you do. Ryan Fitting, sheriff in Cedarburg, is a dear personal friend- he was there for the first moments when my family collapsed on the floor together.

Whatever you can do to quell the mean people, keep fighting the good fight.

And please use my info for lightly responding when you feel led to, just knowing a bit about who we are and how far reaching this tragedy is.

God Bless.

The Prevent Suicide organization has crisis lines available for each county in Wisconsin. You can find them here. You can find other resources to get help here.

According to the Ozaukee County News Graphic, a group from the family’s church “gathered in the backyard to sing worship songs, hymns and prayer”” to help Oechsner’s family, and his soccer teammates “will Wear DO It For Denny (DO also being his initials) on their jerseys when they play next month and will start the game with 10 men, instead of the standard 11.”

“Denny wanted to go to Jesus when he was on that bridge. He knows, he’s been raised to know, that heaven has a place for us. God has prepared a place for us. He’s in God’s family,” Heather Oechsner Denny’s mother, said to the Ozaukee County News Graphic. “Whatever was going on in his brain that day was too much.”

The Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department Received a Report of a Vehicle & Pedestrian Crash on I-43

ozaukee county

Ozaukee Co SheriffThe Ozaukee County news release.

According to the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office, the tragedy occurred on Thursday, March 13, 2024, at about 6:12 a.m.

The Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office “received a report of a vehicle vs pedestrian crash on I43 at Ulao Parkway in the Town of Grafton,” a press release from the department says.

A 2020 International semi-tractor/trailer “was travelling northbound I43 at Ulao Parkway when it struck a pedestrian on the roadway,” the release says.

“The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. Initial investigation determined the pedestrian had suddenly entered I43 intentionally from the Ulao Parkway overpass,” the Sheriff’s release says.

The driver of the semi-tractor was a 62-year-old man from Green Bay, the release says. He was “transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released with no injuries,” the release says.

“The victim was identified as a 17-year-old male from the City of Cedarburg,” according to the release.

READ NEXT: RFK Jr. Is Considering Aaron Rodgers as His Running Mate.