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updated: 10/11/2012 5:18 PM

Circus worker died of drugs, alcohol overdose, coroner says

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The death of a circus worker in August at the Kane County Fairgrounds has been ruled an accident by the Kane County Coroner's Office, it was announced Thursday afternoon.

A toxicology report from the Illinois Crime Laboratory showed "high traces" of heroin, cocaine and alcohol in the system of Casey Dale Walker, 22, according to a news release from St. Charles police. The coroner's office classified the death of the North Carolina man as "polypharmacy/accidental."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had asked the police department to investigate the circumstances of Walker's death to see if he was injured by an elephant, and if the elephant had been harmed while in St. Charles. According to PETA, Walker was an elephant groomer, and was being investigated by Fort Wayne, Ind., and Department of Agriculture authorities on a complaint that he had repeatedly hit an elephant in the face with a baton.

In a prepared statement, PETA said a "whistle-blower" told USDA investigators they saw Walker's co-workers move him into his trailer. PETA has also asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate.

Police said they were called at 3:50 a.m. Aug. 18 and found Walker unconscious outside his trailer. Roommates told them they had found Walker slumped over a dresser in the bedroom, carried him outside and started CPR. St. Charles police responded within minutes of the call, and the first officer on the scene also performed CPR. St. Charles paramedics arrived a short time later and continued CPR with transporting Walker to Delnor Hospital in Geneva, where he was later pronounced dead.

Witnesses told police they saw a bump on Walker's forehead earlier that night, and one said she had seen a metal pipe fall on his forehead several hours before. He had been drinking alcohol with co-workers that evening. Police said they did not find any signs of a struggle in or around the trailer.

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