After Young Bobsled Champ Found Dead, a Potential Cause

Pulmonary congestion could be it, though formal determination is weeks off
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2017 6:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – America's best bobsled pilot was found dead at age 37 on Saturday, and we have an early indication of what may have killed Steven Holcomb. Pulmonary congestion has been listed as a potential cause of death for the 37-year-old, per the Adirondack Medical Center's preliminary report, USA Today reports, though the AP takes a more conservative stance in its reporting. It acknowledges the three-time Olympic medalist and five-time world champ died with fluid in his lungs, but reports "that alone was not enough to draw a conclusion as to why Holcomb died." The formal conclusion will come once toxicology test results are in, which is still several weeks off. But Essex County coroner Francis Whitelaw on Sunday did say preliminary results were negative for drugs.

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Holcomb was found dead in his room at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY, and is believed to have died in his sleep. Our earlier report delves into what a bobsled powerhouse Holcomb was, a sentiment echoed by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who said, "He was already a sporting legend." Part of Holcomb's legend included a battle with a degenerative eye disease that nearly robbed him of his sight and spurred a 2007 suicide attempt. The New York Times reports he was told that year—as the 20/60 vision he had thanks to contact lenses degraded further—he required a cornea transplant that would force his retirement from the sport, as any future collision could threaten the transplant. He tried to take his own life using sleeping pills, but later that year underwent a new procedure that inserted contacts behind his irises and restored his vision to 20/20. (Read more Steven Holcomb stories.)

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