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Medical examiner determines cause of death of 18-year-old HHS senior; two arrests made

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The Dakota County Medical Examiner has determined the cause of death of an 18-year-old Hastings High School senior, found dead here March 17. The examiner ruled the man died of an alcohol and heroin overdose.

Following a subsequent investigation, Hastings police were able to get a number of leads using the deceased man's cell phone, among other things. Investigators determined the man had traveled to the Twin Cities with two others to purchase heroin on or about March 16.

Officers have now arrested those two men.

On Friday, they arrested Jonathan Arndt. He is a 20-year-old Hastings man, and he was arrested and charged with a controlled substance crime in the fifth degree.

18-year-old Austin Bauer of Hastings was arrested and released. He was arrested on the probable cause charge of a controlled substance crime in the fifth degree for possessing a substance believed to be heroin.

The investigation into the teen's death is ongoing.

According to Hastings Chief of Police Paul Schnell, this is the Hastings area's fourth death in five years where heroin was a contributing factor. Those deaths weren't all overdoses, Schnell said, but the fact that heroin played a role in the deaths of four people has prompted the city and the police department to make some changes.

For at least the next 60 days, the department has reassigned one full-time investigator to work exclusively on "gathering and developing drug related criminal intelligence," according to a release issued by police.

"Illegal drug use is a national problem and the recent death of a high school senior indicates that our community is not immune to the devastating effects of illicit abuse," said Hastings Mayor Paul Hicks. "We need to do more to stop this problem and we have tasked our police department to immediately develop and implement a more aggressive interdiction and investigation strategy that is focused on problem solving."

The goal of the investigator will be to develop drug related cases that will be sent to the county for prosecution.

"We recognize that we will never arrest our way out of the problem of illegal drug use," said Hastings Police Chief Paul Schnell. "We believe, however, that exclusively devoting an additional investigator to this problem can have a profound chilling effect on the possession and distribution of illegal drugs and underage alcohol access in and around the City of Hastings."

Anyone with information regarding this case or any other drug-related case in Hastings is encouraged to contact the Hastings Police Department. They can be reached by phone at 651-480-2300 or through anonymous text messages. Tips can be sent via text by texting the word Hastings, along with your tip information, to 847411.