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Kicker was drunk, report says

February 06, 2007|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC kicker Mario Danelo had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit when his body was found at the bottom of a San Pedro cliff last month, but the manner of his death remains undetermined, according to a Los Angeles County coroner's report released Monday.

The body of Danelo, 21, was found about 150 feet below Point Fermin Park on Jan. 6. Deputy medical examiner Jeffrey P. Gutstadt wrote in the autopsy report that Danelo died of multiple traumatic injuries. A toxicology report that accompanied autopsy results said Danelo had a 0.23% blood-alcohol level. The legal limit is .08%. No illegal drugs were found in his body, according to the report.

With the toxicology results now in, the Los Angeles Police Department will continue its investigation, said officer Jason Lee, a department spokesman. Police previously ruled out foul play.

USC Coach Pete Carroll declined to comment. Danelo's family could not be reached for comment.

The son of former NFL kicker Joe Danelo was an All-City player at San Pedro High. He walked on at USC in 2003, earned a scholarship before the 2005 season and handled field goals and extra points the last two seasons.

Less than a week after USC's Rose Bowl victory over Michigan, Danelo's body was found less than a mile from his family's home. Danelo had kicked two field goals and made two of four extra points in the game.

In the autopsy report, dated Feb. 1, Gutstadt wrote that Danelo "had spent the night of January 5th going to parties with friends. About 2:00 a.m. on January 6, 2007, he left his residence without his wallet, cellphone and car keys. He was not heard from again, and his whereabouts were not known until the body was discovered."

Gutstadt concluded the report by writing: "It is our opinion that there are unanswered questions as to why the decedent was out walking the cliffs in the early hours of the morning in the dark. Also, we do not know the state of mind of the decedent. He would have had to scale a wall to get to the strip of land before the steep drop-off of approximately 150 feet while under the influence of alcohol....

"Because of the unanswered questions, we are stating the manner of death as undetermined. This determination is subject to change if new information becomes available."

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