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Reporter's death is ruled an accident

Injuries were consistent with fall down stairs

The Utah medical examiner has ruled the death of Deseret Morning News reporter Norma Wagner was an accident.

Wagner, 41, was found dead in her bed in her Avenues home July 2. Her husband, Patrick Harrison, had told police that he and Wagner had a verbal confrontation the night before, and at some point during the fight, she fell down a flight of stairs.

The next morning Harrison called police after he could not wake Wagner.

The case was initially considered suspicious because paramedics said bruises on Wagner's body did not match a fall down the stairs.

But Salt Lake City police detective Dwayne Baird said upon further investigation, Wagner's injuries were determined to be consistent with a fall.

"The evidence we gathered in this case was consistent with the finding of the M.E.'s office," said Baird, who would not go into details on what evidence was collected. Baird did say, however, that there was not a lot of physical evidence in the case.

The medical examiner's report also said Wagner had a substantially elevated blood-alcohol content. Baird would not reveal Wednesday her exact blood alcohol level, stating that it was "well over the legal limit."

There were also "signs of a prescription drug in her system," Baird said, but no signs of illegal drugs. Wagner was taking medication for seizures.

Baird said the autopsy closes the case, and no charges will be filed in connection with her death.

Wagner was hired by the Deseret Morning News in October 2001. Before that she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune but was fired after a pair of alcohol-related incidents.


E-MAIL: preavy@desnews.com