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Danelo ruling is deferred

January 09, 2007|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

An autopsy was performed Monday on the body of USC kicker Mario Danelo, but the cause of death was deferred pending toxicology results that could take six to eight weeks to process, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner's department.

Danelo, who was 21, was found at the bottom of a cliff at Point Fermin Park in San Pedro on Saturday afternoon.

Capt. Ed Winter said the Danelo case was listed as a "possible accident," and that there was nothing to change that designation at this time. Winter said no suicide note was found.

Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department Harbor Division have ruled out foul play but are continuing to investigate the case as a possible accident or suicide.

Grief counselors were on campus Monday as players returned for the start of the spring semester and met for the first time since their Rose Bowl victory over Michigan on New Year's Day.

Danelo's older brothers, Joey and Tony, addressed the team and read a note from their parents thanking the players for their love and support.

Coach Pete Carroll was not at the meeting. Carroll, who has been vacationing in Costa Rica, was scheduled to return today, according to school officials.

According to several published reports in Florida, Carroll interviewed with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Costa Rica. The Dolphins are seeking a replacement for Nick Saban, who left to become head coach at Alabama.

USC released a statement from Carroll that a spokesman said was obtained Sunday night.

"We'll miss Mario terribly," the statement said. "He was a wonderful kid and well liked by everyone. We'll be there to help his family in every way we can and we'll always be there for them.

"Mario was a great young man and he'll always be remembered by everyone that way."

Several players described Monday's meeting as solemn.

"It was a pretty somber mood," punter Greg Woidneck said. "Everybody is pretty bummed and depressed."

Afterward, special teams assistant Sam Anno spoke to the media about how, every time Danelo was asked how he was doing, he answered, "Living the dream."

He also told of how Danelo, when he began his kicking career in high school, awoke at 3 a.m. to practice with his father, Joe, a former NFL kicker.

Anno said that funeral services for Danelo will be held Friday at Mary Star of the Sea church in San Pedro at 10:30 a.m. A reception will follow at the Doubletree hotel in San Pedro.

gary.klein@latimes.com

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