Coroner awaits facts to reveal cause of Gans' death

The mystery of Danny Gans' death remains almost two weeks after he died in his home, leaving rumors to fill the information void.

Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy has heard the rumors, but doesn't care about rumors.

He cares about facts, specifically those that are uncovered by the investigators and doctors in his office who are charged with determining the causes of death for the 52-year-old impressionist and thousands of others who die in the county each year.

"It's kind of a total picture, and that's what we're trying to do, is put all the pieces of the puzzle together," Murphy said.

Gans died May 1 at his Henderson home. His wife had called 911 about 3:45 a.m. and reported him having breathing problems. Paramedics couldn't revive him.

Gans' manager, Chip Lightman, told the Review-Journal last week that Gans had high blood pressure and a history of heart problems in his family.

The coroner's office performed an autopsy the day he died but has not determined his cause of death. The office was awaiting the results of toxicology tests that were sent to an independent lab after the autopsy.

Murphy wouldn't offer more details about the Gans case, but he did talk about the typical procedure his office uses in determining causes of death.

The probe begins at the scene of the death, where a coroner's investigator works with police in examining the body and scene for evidence that could shed light on what killed the person.

The coroner's investigator also interviews family and friends and can access medical records to get a personal and medical history.

After the body is transferred to the coroner's office, a forensic pathologist performs an autopsy, examining the body and internal organs for signs of disease or trauma.

During the autopsy, blood, urine and organ tissue are collected for testing.

The tests include screenings for legal and illegal substances, as well as standard blood tests typically done by doctors, Murphy said.

The samples are sent to an independent lab for testing, which can take an estimated two to four weeks.

Once the coroner's office receives the test results, at least two and as many as four forensic pathologists will review them along with the autopsy results and come up with a cause of death, he said.

That process could take as little as a day, but it could take weeks, especially if more tests are required, he said.

"The reality is we don't do it within 60 minutes with commercials," Murphy said.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at or 702-383-0281.