American television producer Jeff Rice was found dead in a hotel in Uganda and police told ABC News he died of an apparent cocaine overdose.
Rice’s body was discovered in a luxury hotel in the capital city of Kampala on Friday. His assistant Katheryne Fuller was found unconscious and is now recovering at a hospital.
Police say hotel staff noticed a man hanging on a balcony. When they went to the room, they found Rice’s body on the balcony and Fuller lying in the room. Staff called police and rushed the victims to a hospital where Rice was declared dead, police said.
“Ms. Fuller is slowly recovering, and when she is recovered enough we will be able to talk to her and find out more about what happened,” said Uganda Police Force spokesman Asuman Mugenyi.
Police initially believed Rice and Fuller may have been sickened by some type of food poisoning. Mugenyi denied reports that Rice was poisoned after he rebuffed a shakedown attempt from local thugs.
“Those were misreported rumors about this being some kind of attack by thugs. We do not believe that, and we do not believe this was any type of food poisoning. Again, we are still investigating and will know much more when we can talk to Ms. Fuller,” said Mugenyi.
Rice was a veteran producer who worked on the latest season of the hit reality series “The Amazing Race” and the Emmy-nominated Animal Planet series “Whale Wars.” In addition to raising two young kids, he and his wife Sally Blackman operated a television and film production company called SB Productions in Durban, South Africa. Fuller was an employee of their company.
Rice’s brother-in-law, Paul Blackman, told ABC News his family plans to stay in South Africa for now, and they could not yet comment.
“We do not want to disclose anything until we learn more about the investigation,” said Blackman.
Rice and Fuller were not working on Amazing Race in Uganda. Fuller’s father Stuart Fuller said they were shooting a documentary and other crew members who were with them should know more about what sickened them. Stuart Fuller said he is now with his daughter at the hospital in Kampala.
“She is okay. We are trying to get her back to South Africa. She needs medical attention that they can’t do here,” he said.
ABC News’ Kaitlyn Folmer contributed to this report