Coroner: Christopher Bowman died of accidental drug overdose

Updated: February 8, 2008, 7:12 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Former national figure skating champion Christopher Bowman died from a drug overdose and an enlarged heart, the coroner said Friday.

The 40-year-old Bowman was found dead inside a motel room in the city's North Hills neighborhood on Jan. 10.

The two-time champion's blood-alcohol level was 0.12 percent, said chief coroner's investigator Craig Harvey, and toxicology tests also revealed cocaine, Valium and marijuana.

Also present was the prescription medicine Seroquel, which is used to treat bipolar disorder, Harvey said.

The report said the death was accidental.

Harvey said Bowman's enlarged heart was not a condition he was born with, but developed over time. Substance abuse and weight gain could have been factors.

The autopsy report said at death, the 6-foot-1 Bowman weighed 261 pounds.

"There are a lot of factors that can contribute to an enlargement of the heart," Harvey said. "It doesn't put you in a better position, it puts you in a weaker position with what you put in your body. It puts your heart in a precarious position."

An initial autopsy done two days after Bowman's death was not conclusive, and police had said there was no sign of foul play or illegal drug use in the motel room where Bowman was found.

A skating star in the 1980s and '90s known as "Bowman the Showman," he a reputation for excess that rivaled his talent.

Bowman battled drug problems and underwent treatment at least twice -- once before the 1988 Olympics and again after the Albertville Games in 1992. He was an admitted cocaine addict.

Along with the U.S. championships he won in 1989 and 1992, Bowman also earned a silver medal at the 1989 world championships and a bronze the next year. He was seventh at the 1988 Winter Olympics and finished fourth in the 1992 Games.

A former child actor -- he had appeared on television's "Little House on the Prairie" -- Bowman had recently come from Detroit to Southern California to make a comeback in acting.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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