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Woman's Disputed Death Held 'Natural'

February 11, 1988|JOHN SPANO | Times Staff Writer

A Huntington Harbour woman who expired at her husband's side after a Caribbean shipwreck died of "apparent natural causes," the Los Angeles County coroner's office said Wednesday.

The opinion in the case of Nancy Ann Barwick could deal a severe blow to lawsuits by her children alleging that she had been murdered.

Barwick's body was exhumed last month by a court order sought by her three children.

"After an autopsy and extensive laboratory analysis, the death of Nancy Ann Barwick is of apparent natural causes," said coroner's spokesman Bob Dambacher. "There was no evidence of traumatic injuries sufficient to cause death including strangulation, and no evidence of any toxic substances."

In a probate case and a separate wrongful death lawsuit, the children have alleged that Kenneth Barwick, whom their mother married after the death of her first husband, was responsible for her death.

Most of her estate, valued at $1.2 million, has been frozen as a result of the litigation.

Barwick cannot benefit from her estate if he is found in the probate case to have killed his wife. Barwick could not be reached for comment but has consistently maintained he struggled valiantly to save his wife after their boat sank in the Caribbean off Aruba in 1985.

John Whelan, a lawyer representing the children, had unsuccessfully sought to have that case combined with the wrongful death lawsuit, which would require proof of extreme negligence by the husband in order for the children to prevail.

None of the children--Mark, Tony or Paul Galyean--or their lawyer could be reached for comment.

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