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Man died from rare bone fracture in New Year's Day bar fight

RHINELANDER, WI (WTAQ) - Medical experts said a Rhinelander man got a rare bone fracture when he died in an altercation at a bar early New Year's Day.  

An autopsy shows that 48-year-old James Tanner died from a broken sternum bone, which punctured his heart.  

Marathon County Medical Examiner Jessica Blahnik tells the Wausau Daily Herald the sternum is hard to fracture, especially in a heart puncture. Oneida County Medical Examiner Larry Mathein said it takes a lot of force to kill a younger person that way.  

Witnesses told police that Tanner punched a 62-year-old man in the face at Sackett's Bar in Rhinelander -- and a 59-year-old disc jockey at the bar forcefully moved Tanner's upper torso to top of the bar with enough force to knock drinks to the floor.  

Police say it's possible that the disc jockey's actions may have killed Tanner, but they're not certain. An investigation continues.  

Officials say they don't know what prompted the original punch. That victim was treated at a hospital and later released.  

The Oneida County district attorney's office is reviewing the matter.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)