Indianz.Com > News > Teen student’s death under investigation in Oklahoma
16-year-old Owasso student laid to rest after unexpected death

With few answers after an Owasso student's unexpected death last week, friends and family are remembering Dagny Benedict, who was lost too soon. More >>>

Posted by KJRH on Friday, February 16, 2024
KJRH: 16-year-old Owasso student laid to rest after unexpected death
Teen student’s death under investigation in Oklahoma
Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Authorities in Oklahoma are investigating the death of a 16-year-old student who passed away under unexpected circumstances.

According to an obituary, Dagny Ellis Benedict passed away on February 8. The family said Dagny had been a student at Owasso High School in Owasso, in the northeast part of the state.

“Dagny enjoyed a variety of past times such as watching the Walking Dead, drawing, reading, and playing Ark and Minecraft,” the obituary stated.

According to news reports from Oklahoma, Dagny was involved in an incident at school prior to their passing. The school district said the death is under investigation by local law enforcement.

“The Owasso Police Department has notified district leaders of the death of an Owasso High School student,” Owasso Public Schools said in a statement to the media. “The student’s name and cause of death have not yet been made public.”

“As this is an active police investigation, we will have no additional comment at this time,” the statement continued. “Further inquiries should be directed to the Owasso Police Department.”

The Owasso police also issued a statement. On Tuesday afternoon, the law enforcement agency said it responded to a local hospital following a report of a student who had been in a “physical altercation” at school.

“On February 7th, 2024, at approximately 3:30 p.m., the Owasso Police Department was summoned to a local hospital in reference to a report of a student who had been involved in a physical altercation at the Owasso High School prior to the end of school that day,” the agency said. “No report of the incident was made to the Owasso Police Department prior to the notification at the hospital. Information was taken by a School Resource Officer who responded to the hospital.”

“On February 8th, 2024, the Owasso Police Department was made aware that the juvenile was rushed back to a hospital where the student was pronounced dead,” the law enforcement statement continued. “It is not known at this time if the death is related to the incident at the school or not. A thorough investigation is being conducted by Owasso Police Detectives who are currently awaiting an autopsy report and toxicology results.”

The Cherokee Nation is looking into the incident too, amid social media posts which identified Dagny as a tribal citizen. However, the tribe has not yet found any information to confirm what is being shared online, a spokesperson told Indianz.Com on Tuesday afternoon.

The tribe has searched by the student’s date of birth, which has been disclosed in the obituary, and by the names of the student and their parents, the spokesperson said.

Robin McLain Smith
A screenshot of a February 19, 2024, social media post by Robin McLain Smith, administrator for an unofficial page about meetings of the Cherokee Nation Council.

Indianz.Com contacted Freedom Oklahoma, which advocates for 2S (Two Spirit) and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as the Cherokee Nation citizen who posted about the student, on Tuesday afternoon to determine more about the information being shared online. Neither the obituary, nor a GoFundMe set up for the family, have mentioned tribal affiliation.

Owasso falls within the reservation of the Cherokee Nation. The city, located near Tulsa, is part of the tribe’s 14-county area. Historically, Owasso was in the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation.

News reports and social media posts have described Dagny’s gender identity as non-binary. KJRH said they went by the name Nez, citing a friend and fellow student. Online posts have said Dagny went by the name Nex.

Owasso, Oklahoma
A view of Owasso, Oklahoma. Photo: Janice Waltzer