Some neurosurgeons said it would be unusual for a typical fall to cause Mr. Saget’s series of fractures — in the back, right side and front of his skull. Those doctors said the injuries were more reminiscent of those of people falling from a considerable height or being thrown from their seats in a car accident.
However, the autopsy found no injuries to other parts of Mr. Saget’s body, as would be expected from a longer fall. The coroner ruled that the death was an accident. The local sheriff’s office had previously said there were no signs of malicious intent.
“This is significant trauma,” says Dr. Gavin Britz, the chair of neurosurgery at Houston Methodist. “This is what I find in someone with a baseball bat to the head, or who fell from 20 or 30 feet.”
dr. Britz noted that the autopsy described fractures to particularly thick areas of the skull, as well as to bones in the roof of the eye socket. “If you break your job,” he said, referring to those eye bones, “you’re in a lot of pain.”
The knock ruptured arteries in the space between the membrane covering the brain and the brain itself, causing blood to build up, the autopsy found. The brain, encased in a hard skull, has nowhere to go, doctors said, and the result is a compression of brain centers essential for breathing and other vital functions.
According to the autopsy, no alcohol or illegal drugs were detected in the actor’s system. But there were signs of Clonazepam, commonly known as Klonopin, a benzodiazepine used to prevent seizures and treat panic attacks. Tests also found Trazodone, an antidepressant, the report said.
There was no evidence in the autopsy findings that any of those drugs could have contributed to Mr. Saget’s injuries. But doctors said they could make people sleepy and contribute to a fall.