Natalie Wood's Body Bruised Before She Drowned: Coroner

But new report leaves cause of death 'undetermined'

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 14, 2013 2:49 PM CST

(Newser) – Natalie Wood's body had bruises and scratches that she likely suffered before drowning in the Pacific Ocean on a November night in 1981, according to a new coroner's report. "The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to the entry into the water," wrote Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran in his report. He refused to rule out "non-volitional, unplanned entry into the water" but left her cause of death "undetermined," the LA Times reports.

The actor's drowning was considered accidental until Dennis Davern, the pilot of the boat she shared with actor-husband Robert Wagner, gave a TV interview blaming Wagner for her death, CBS reports. The LA County Sheriff's Department reopened the investigation in 2011, which led to today's report. But a lack of evidence leaves open the chance that Wood was hurt trying to tie a dinghy to the boat. Her actual injuries: superficial abrasions to the face, a scratch on her neck, and bruises on her arms, reports the AP. (According to unearthed audiotapes, Wagner actually pushed Wood off the boat.)

In this 1980 file photo, actor Robert Wagner appears with actress Natalie Wood.
In this 1980 file photo, actor Robert Wagner appears with actress Natalie Wood.   (AP Photo, File)
A Dec. 1, 1981 file photo shows actress Natalie Wood.
A Dec. 1, 1981 file photo shows actress Natalie Wood.   (AP Photo/File)
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