Originally created 07/17/02

Kile autopsy confirms he died of blocked coronary arteries



CHICAGO -- St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile died from a blockage of the arteries supplying the heart, and there was no evidence that drugs contributed to his death, Cook County's coroner said Tuesday.

"This is a natural cause of death," Edmund Donoghue, the county's chief medical examiner, said in a statement.

Toxicology tests did show evidence of marijuana use, although it was probably weeks before and was not a factor in Kile's death, Donoghue said.

Tests were negative on steroids, alcohol, cocaine and ephedrine, a substance commonly found in dietary supplements banned by some sports.

The Cardinals were playing in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, and no one from the team was immediately available to comment.

Kile, 33, had a 90 percent blockage in two of three coronary arteries, Donoghue said, confirming his preliminary analysis shortly after the death. He also had an enlarged heart and a blood clot in one of the coronary arteries.

Donoghue said the artery blockage likely triggered a fatal irregular heartbeat.

Kile was found dead in the team's Chicago hotel on June 22. Workers at the downtown Westin Hotel found the body after they forced their way into Kile's 11th-floor room after Kile failed to report to Wrigley Field for a game with the Cubs.

A substance believed to be marijuana was found in the hotel room. Police never tested the material because there was no criminal case to pursue and it did not contribute to his death.

Kile's heart condition, called coronary atherosclerosis, is commonly known as hardening of the arteries.

Kile's father died in his mid-40s in 1993.

The Cardinals had said the 6-foot-4 pitcher had no known health problems and was not on medication.

Dr. Thomas Levin, a cardiologist at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in suburban Chicago, said all the indicators are that Kile had advanced heart disease.

"It implies that this was a chronic problem. It didn't just come up overnight," Levin said.

He said such a condition in someone so young was "unusual but not unheard of."