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Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hill’s death ruled accidental

Patriots’ defensive end fell off jet ski, drowned

May 30, 2007

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— The death of New England Patriots defensive end Marquise Hill, who fell off a jet ski in Lake Pontchartrain, was ruled an accidental drowning on Tuesday.

An autopsy found no signs of drug or alcohol in Hill's body, although more tests are planned and will take two weeks to complete, said Orleans Parish coroner Dr. Frank Minyard.

Minyard said Hill might have suffered a mild concussion when he fell off the water craft.

"He might of hit the right side of his face above the eye when he fell off the craft," Minyard said. "He had a pretty nasty bruise there."

There was a slight amount of blood in the brain, which could indicate a concussion, Minyard said.

"That could have caused him some confusion," Minyard said. "Although we were told he talked to the woman who was with him after the accident, he could have become disoriented."

Hill played on LSU's national championship team and was a second-round draft pick by New England in 2004. He had yet to start for the Patriots, playing in 13 games in his NFL career.

Hill and a female friend had ventured onto the lake Sunday night near the south shore. Investigators said neither was wearing a life vest. Authorities said they ended up in an area of swirling currents near where a shipping canal runs into the lake.

"The water goes through there very fast and it's very deep - 70, 80, 90 feet deep," said Minyard, who fishes in the area.

While the woman survived by clinging to a pylon until she was rescued, the 24-year-old Hill, who friends described as a good swimmer, drifted away and disappeared. Searchers pulled his body from the water on Monday afternoon.

"There were currents and very choppy waves," said Capt. Brian Clark of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department, who took part in the search.

"That might have caused the accident, you have to know what you're doing in those conditions or you'll have trouble."

Hill was described by friends as a strong swimmer who included laps in his training routine. But the water conditions may have nullified his skill, Clark said.

State regulations require anyone riding the popular speedy water craft to wear a life jacket and be off the water a half hour before sunset, said Coast Guard officer Aldo Portillo.

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