Autopsy: Heart disease, cocaine killed rocker
North Dakota's forensic medical examiner found that drug use combined with heart disease led to the heart attack that killed heavy-metal guitarist Cory Smoot last month in Pembina, N.D.
A report released Wednesday to the Herald provides official details of his death at 34. He was in his band Gwar's tour bus in Pembina, N.D., Nov. 3 when the tour manager discovered him dead.
Dr. William Massello III performed the autopsy in Bismarck the following day.
Earlier this week, Smoot's family had released excerpts of a report Massello sent them, which quotes Massello as allegedly saying: "I have determined that Cory died from a coronary artery thrombosis brought about by his pre-existing coronary artery disease."
A thrombosis is a blood clot and it can cause a heart attack.
The information was published on several online sources, including the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch and the New York Daily News.
But Massello's report released Wednesday actually includes more: the cause of death was "coronary artery thrombosis due to stimulant (cocaine) use and arteriosclerotic heart disease."
Arteriosclerosis is hardening and thickening of blood vessels.
Massello added "other significant conditions: acute and chronic drug abuse."
The manner of Smoot's death was "accidental," and the injury occurred through the use of "both contraband and prescription type drugs," Massello said in his report.
BCI agents who observed the autopsy filed a report stating that cocaine was found in Smoot's system and "puncture marks" on his hands and arms.
Agents armed with a search warrant looked through the tour bus and found in Smoot's possession prescription pain killers, a $5 bill with "white powder residue" and syringes.
Gwar was formed in Richmond, Va., in 1984; Smoot joined it a decade ago.
The band had played in Minneapolis the night before his death and was on its way to Edmonton, Alta., when it stopped in Pembina. Band members slept en route and say Smoot was alive when they left Minneapolis.
Smoot's body was sent to his family after several days. A private service was held last month in Virgina.
Smoot's family in Virginia includes his wife, Jaime, and their unborn child, according to the band's website.