DOCUMENT: Celebrity

Probing How Steve Allen Died

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Probing How Steve Allen Died

Hours before he died of a reported heart attack, comedian Steve Allen was involved in an automobile accident that family members now believe may have contributed to his death. In light of this claim, the Los Angeles coroner's office has put a "security hold" on Allen's case, declining to release his autopsy while it further investigates an official cause of death, The Smoking Gun has learned.

Meanwhile, the late entertainer's family is pursuing a bodily injury claim against the driver of a Lexus SUV that struck Allen's car while backing out of a driveway on Valley Vista Boulevard in Encino, California. The accident occurred about two hours before the comedian died at his son's Encino home on October 30. The injury claim, according to a TSG source, has been presented to Mercury Insurance, the Los Angeles firm insuring the other driver.

Scott Carrier, spokesman for the coroner's office,told TSG that "microscopic tissue taken after Allen's death is being examined to determine the cause of death." This review, which could take up to six weeks, triggered the "security hold" on the establishment of a cause of death, said Carrier.

Shortly after Allen passed away, an interim death certificate noted that a motor vehicle accident might have been a factor in the comedian's death. Because of this claim, Carrier said, the coroner's office was required to investigate Allen's death. By law, the coroner is charged with reviewing the circumstances,manner, and cause of all deaths that are sudden, violent, or unusual.

Various obituaries reported that Allen, 78, died of an apparent heart attack. Bill Allen, the comedian's youngest son, told the Associated Press his father "was a little tired after dinner. He went to relax, peacefully, and never reawakened." None of the obituaries mentioned the car accident, which apparently was not disclosed by family members.