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Coroner: Gans’ death was accidental; health problems a factor

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Justin M. Bowen

Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy discusses the cause of death Tuesday afternoon of Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans.

Updated Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | 6:57 p.m.

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  • A press conference was held Tuesday, June 9, 2009 regarding the cause of death of entertainer Danny Gans.
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Coroner rules on Gans' death

Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy discusses the cause of death Tuesday afternoon of Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans. Launch slideshow »
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The cause and manner of death of Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans was released Tuesday afternoon.

Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans' death was an accident and underlying health problems were a factor, the Clark County coroner said Tuesday.

Chronic pain syndrome treated by a pain medication contributed to the death of Daniel Davies Gans. High blood pressure also was a factor, as well as a red blood cell disorder.

Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said Gans had a toxic reaction to hydromorphone, which is a common pain medication such as Dilaudid, in addition to other physical causes, he said.

Murphy would not release the amount of the drug found in Gans' blood.

"That's a quality of care issue that this office does not address," he said.

The coroner wouldn’t say whether Gans had a prescription for the painkiller. "This is not an issue of drug abuse," he said.

Murphy wouldn’t release the name of Gans' physician.

The coroner's investigation indicated that Gans had hypertensive cardiovascular disease, which causes high blood pressure, thickens the walls of the heart and can create conditions that cause heart problems.

In addition, Gans had polycythemia, a condition that produces more red blood cells than necessary and thickens the blood. The condition is sometimes known as the opposite of anemia, where there are too few red blood cells.

Murphy released Gans' cause of death during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. He said his office reached the conclusion earlier Tuesday.

"We send heartfelt sympathy to the Gans family," Murphy said. The coroner said he had spoken to the family before the news conference.

Murphy said the coroner's office can rule a death one of five different ways: natural, accidental, homicide, suicide and undetermined.

Dr. Gary Telgenhoff, a medical examiner in the coroner's office, said Gans' underlying health conditions already were serious upon his death. Telgenhoff said he had not spoken to Gans' physician during his examination.

Gans, 52, was the headliner at the Encore resort. The singer, actor and impressionist died in his sleep early in the morning of May 1 at his Henderson home. Although the time of death is listed as 7:35 a.m., Murphy explained that a certified health care professional must pronounce a death before it becomes official.

Gans' wife, Julie, found him about 3:44 a.m. May 1. She called 911 and said he was having trouble breathing. Paramedics arrived seven minutes later. He never was alone from the time his wife found him until he was pronounced dead, Murphy said.

After Gans' death, the coroner sent tissue and microscopic samples for lab testing and it took almost six weeks to receive the results, Murphy said.

Over the years, Gans had been billed as "The Man of Many Voices." Gans was named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year a dozen times.

Gans wasn't always an entertainer. He played minor league baseball until he suffered an injury. He eventually performed in Las Vegas at the Stratosphere, the Rio and the Mirage before going to the Encore, where he opened Feb. 10 in the 1,500-seat Encore Theater.

After his death the Encore posted Gans’ picture on the resort's marquee with the message: "Our friend forever. Danny Gans. 1952 2009."

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