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Autopsy: Skater Not Hit by Paint Balls


An autopsy found no bruising or paint splatters that would prove an inline skater was hit by paint balls before he fell and hit his head last month in Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve as authorities initially believed, police said Monday.

Gary Michael Holdren, 54, of Newport Beach was in a coma for two weeks after the fall and was declared dead Saturday.

"As a result of the physician and subsequent coroner's investigation, they determined that there was no evidence to substantiate that Mr. Holdren was directly hit by any paint balls," Newport Beach Police Sgt. Steve Shulman said. "That's not to indicate that he couldn't fall as a result of [other] paint-ball activity, but right now, there's nothing to indicate that it was directly paint-ball related. It could have been some other kind of distraction--cars, bicycles or other roller-bladers."

The autopsy also revealed that what appeared to be external head injuries were actually internal injuries caused by the fall, he said.

"There was some head trauma and bruising and swelling of an eye, and the coroner determined that injury was [the] result of hitting his head," Shulman said.

The police have two witnesses who saw three youths shooting paint balls in the area, and saw splattered paint and other debris where Holdren fell, Shulman said. Police are still seeking the youths.

"At this particular point, we're looking into all the areas with regard to how he could have fallen," Shulman said.

"We're not going to exclude anything, and we're not going to be so focused on paint balls that we're not going to look at anything else."

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