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Gary Coleman case closed, death ruled accidental

Published October 7, 2010 8:49 am

Celebrity • Investigation finds no signs of foul play.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The death of "Diff'rent Strokes" television sit-com star Gary Coleman has been ruled accidental, Santaquin police confirmed Wednesday.

Detective Stan Eggen said an autopsy by the state medical examiner found Coleman suffered a "closed head injury" after an accidental fall on May 26. Coleman, 42, died when life support was removed two days later.

The autopsy also found that Coleman was suffering from chronic renal failure and coronary arterial atherosclerosis, with 80 percent to 90 percent blockage of cardiac arteries.

"He just fell and hit his head. He already was in very poor health," Eggen said, adding that detectives found no evidence of foul play. "There was no struggle. There's no indication of anything else here than an accident."

Coleman's ex-wife Shannon Price, who still lived with him, called emergency medical workers to their home. A recording of the 911 call was later released in which she was heard explaining her aversion to blood prevented her from offering Coleman direct aid.

Price also reportedly was the one who told doctors May 28 to terminate Coleman's life support.

The two met in 2005 on the set of the movie "Church Ball," which was made in Utah.

Though the couple had divorced in August 2008, Price and her attorneys maintain her relationship with Coleman amounted to a common law marriage; that they were not only still living together but had filed their tax returns jointly as a married couple and held joint bank accounts; and that Coleman had named Price his wife on forms filed for Social Security and Medicaid.

Price has petitioned the Utah courts to recognize her common law relationship with Coleman from the date of their divorce through his May 28 death. She is seeking the recognition as part of an ongoing legal battle over Coleman's estate, which includes the house in Santaquin, about 65 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Coleman, who was cremated weeks after his death, left multiple wills, although a note handwritten by Coleman days after his 2007 marriage names Price his sole heir.

Coleman's ex-girlfriend Anna Gray contends a 2005 document awards her the estate.