06/23/2002 4:26 pm ET
Kile autopsy centers on arteries
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Cook County Medical Examiner said on Sunday that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile likely died because of a heart condition known as coronary atherosclerosis, which is a hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
Dr. Edmund Donoghue issued a death certificate but also said toxicology tests would be done, which will take four to six weeks to complete.
Kile, 33, was found dead in his 11th-floor hotel room in downtown Chicago Saturday just hours before the Cardinals were to play the Chicago Cubs. He had been scheduled to pitch Sunday night, a game won by the Cubs, 8-3, at Wrigley Field.
Donoghue, who performed the autopsy Sunday, said, "Darryl Kile had 80 to 90 percent of narrowing of two of three branches of his coronary arteries, a condition known as coronary atherosclerosis."
Coronary atherosclerosis is a disease that can affect people at any age, although it usually doesn't pose a threat until they reach their 40s or 50s. It is characterized by a narrowing of the arteries caused by cholesterol-rich plaques of immune-system cells.
Kile's father died of a stroke -- a sign of atherosclerosis in an artery of the brain -- at age 44, suggesting that Kile may have had a genetic predisposition to the disease.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Kile's brother, Dan, told officials that Darryl had been complaining of pain in his right shoulder and of being very tired on Friday night. Donoghue said those are signs he might have been having heart failure.
Donoghue also said Sunday that a small amount of marijuana was found in Kile's room.
"There was a substance that we suspect was marijuana that was found in the bathroom," said Patrick Camden, deputy director of news affairs for the Chicago Police.
On Sunday, police would not confirm to the Post-Dispatch that marijuana was found; a police spokeswoman was quoted in an Associated Press story saying no contraband was discovered. Camden corrected that Monday.
"The bottom line was the substance was found," Camden said. "The room had a latch on it. If it was his (marijuana), I don't know. It was found in the room. It was something that was inventoried as part of the normal death investigation. The toxicology reports will be out in four to six weeks."
Donoghue said he requested the toxicology tests to be thorough in his examination. However, he said he did not feel marijuana contributed to Kile's unexpected death in any way.
"I want to make it clear that marijuana had nothing to do with his death," Donoghue said Sunday.
Kile was late reporting to Wrigley Field on Saturday and the team contacted hotel security, which had to break into his room at the Westin Hotel. Kile was found in his bed, wearing eye shades. His personal belongings were in the room and there was no sign of forced entry.
Donoghue said Kile appeared to have died peacefully in his sleep. The medical examiner said Kile probably died seven to 10 hours before he was found.
Funeral arrangements were expected to be announced Monday.
Carrie Muskat covers the Cubs for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.