New Findings in Death of '60s Star Natalie Wood

The actress, who drowned while on a yachting trip with her husband, Robert Wagner and a friend, may not have gone into the water deliberately, according to an LA County coroner report.

By Sharon Bernstein
|  Monday, Jan 14, 2013  |  Updated 11:08 AM PDT
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New Findings in Death of '60s Star Natalie Wood

Getty Images

1969: Portrait of American actor Natalie Wood (1938 - 1981), wearing false eyelashes and thick eyeliner with a ribbed turtleneck and hoop earrings, posing outdoors. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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The circumstances surrounding the drowning death of actress Natalie Wood may have been different than originally believed, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said in a report released Monday.

In the report, which was dated May 29, 2012, Interim Coroner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran said he could not rule out the possibility that Wood, whose death was originally ruled accidental, did not go into the water that night of her own volition.

Instead, Sathyavagiswaran said, the circumstances surrounding the death were "not clearly established."

Wood had previously been believed to have possibly climbed out of the yacht on which she was vacationing with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, and a friend, perhaps taking a dinghy to the nearby shore.

Documents

But the dinghy was never started, the coroner's report said, and Wood was not dressed in a way that indicated that she had planned to go to shore. The 43-year-old actress had bruises on her arms and legs, but no head trauma, the report said.

These factors, the coroner wrote, led to the possibility that she did not go into the water deliberately.

"This Medical Examiner is unable to exclude non-volitional, unplanned entry into the water," he wrote.

However, the coroner refrained from speculating as to what really happened. He did not say that she was pushed, that she fell, or even completely rule out the prior theory that she left deliberately in the dinghy.

Sathyavagiswaran also said that he was changing Wood's cause of death from "probable drowning" to "drowning and other undetermined factors."

The manner of death is being changed to "undetermined."

"How injury occurred will be listed as found floating in ocean," the coroner wrote. "Circumstances not clearly established."

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