January 7, 2001 -- A minor traffic accident was apparently to blame for the October death of comedian and television pioneer Steve Allen, according to a just-released coroner's report.
Allen, 78, died Oct. 30 of what seemed to be a heart attack while napping at his son's Los Angeles area home.
A Los Angeles Coroner's spokesman said on Friday that autopsy results showed that the real cause of death was a ruptured blood vessel, caused by injuries to Allen's chest from a minor traffic accident earlier in the day.
"There was leakage of blood into the sac surrounding the heart due to a ruptured blood vessel," Los Angeles Coroner's spokesman Scott Carrier told the press. The condition is known as hemopericardium.
"There was a hole in the wall of the heart allowing the blood to leak out. He already had a heart condition," Carrier said.
According to The Associated Press, Allen was driving to his son's home in Encino, Calif., when his Lexus was hit by a sport utility vehicle that was backing out of a driveway. The identity of the other driver has not been released.
Allen, the first host of the Tonight Show, was an accomplished writer and composer and a well-known TV personality. He had been married to actress Jayne Meadows for 48 years. On the day of his death, Allen was planning the promotion of his 53rd book and working on the manuscript for a 54th, Vulgarians at the Gate, about what he saw as an increase in violence and vulgarity in the media.
Reuters contributed to this story.