Sheriff steps back from drug claim in Rainbow Family death

By Mark Bowder and Dave Kern

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Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown has stepped back from a statement Wednesday that 28-year-old Amber Kellar of Weed, Calif., died of a drug overdose at a Rainbow Family Gathering in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Brown said this afternoon that he "probably stepped over the line" suggesting Kellar died from drug use, before he consulted with sheriff's Detective Monty Buettner about the woman's death.

Earlier today, Buettner said that authorities have no evidence that a drug overdose caused Kellar's death.

Kellar died Wednesday. The Columbian, based on an interview with Brown, reported today that officials believed Kellar's death was a suspected drug overdose.

“We don’t have any information that the cause of death was a drug overdose,” Buettner said. “At this point, we don’t know the cause of death and we won’t know the cause of death until the medical examiner’s investigation is complete.”

Kimberly Kellar, 30, of New York state said she believes her sister did not die of a drug overdose because she said Amber did not use drugs.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office this morning said they had not yet received Amber Kellar’s body. An official said it would take six to eight weeks to receive toxicology reports to determine if drugs were a factor in the death of Amber Kellar.

Buettner said “I have not heard any evidence of a drug overdose.”

He said Amber was found unconscious near a group of tents. He said there was “no sign of physical injuries.”

Paramedics attempted life-saving techniques but were unsuccessful.

Buettner said he was told no drugs were found at the scene of Amber’s death.

The Rainbow Family Gathering at Skookum Meadows ends today.

Columbian staff writer Ray Legendre contributed to this story.