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Coroner: Cause of bobsledder Steven Holcomb's death unclear

By: The Associated Press
May 7, 2017 Updated: May 8, 2017 at 10:27 am
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photo - The driver of United States USA-1, Steven Holcomb waves to supporters after their third run during the men's four-man bobsled competition final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
The driver of United States USA-1, Steven Holcomb waves to supporters after their third run during the men's four-man bobsled competition final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) 

The cause of U.S. Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb's death will remain unclear until more tests are completed.

An autopsy performed at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, New York, showed that the 37-year-old Holcomb died with fluid in his lungs, Essex County coroner Francis Whitelaw said Sunday. However, that alone was not enough to draw a conclusion as to why Holcomb died - and no determination will come until toxicology tests are completed.

That process can typically take several weeks.

Whitelaw said preliminary toxicology results did not show drugs in Holcomb's system. Whitelaw also said there is "no suspicion of foul play," concurring with what USA Bobsled and Skeleton and the U.S. Olympic Committee said shortly after Holcomb's body was discovered Saturday afternoon in his room at the Olympic Training Center - where many athletes reside when they are training or competing in Lake Placid.

Holcomb was a three-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medalist, including a four-man gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Games.

"The world has lost a true national hero, an example to young and old alike about overcoming diversity and a true gentlemen as well as an all-around great man," former USA Bobsled and Skeleton board member Howard Lowry said in a tribute letter to Holcomb's family and friends. "Steven's shoes will forever be too large to fill by those that come after him."

Team officials believe Holcomb died in his sleep.

The grieving process for Holcomb's friends and family was just getting started Sunday. His parents arrived in Lake Placid from their homes in Colorado and Utah, and some bobsledders and team officials are expected to be there in the coming days. Holcomb has spent time in Colorado Springs training and with family.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been revealed. Plans are also underway for memorial services to be held in the coming weeks in both Lake Placid and Holcomb's hometown of Park City, Utah.

Tributes continued pouring in Sunday from across the Olympic sports world, with American figure skating legend Kristi Yamaguchi, longtime U.S. beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings, British skeleton standout Shelley Rudman and German luge great Felix Loch among those tweeting messages of sorrow and remembrance.

At Sunday's NASCAR race at Talladega, Alabama someone scrawled "RIP Steven" on the track as a tribute to Holcomb, who was a big racing fan.

"We've lost a legend," said USA Luge's Erin Hamlin - who, like Holcomb, is a world champion and Olympic medalist.

Holcomb's success on the sliding tracks across the world was obvious. But he was more revered within the sliding world for his persona off the track; International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation President Ivo Ferriani said he would remember Holcomb for the "politeness and respect" that he showed everyone who was associated with the sport.

"Very sad to hear the terrible news about Steven Holcomb," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said. "He was already a sporting legend. He was hugely appreciated by his fellow competitors and everybody in Olympic sport."

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