Coroner says Bishop Gorman teen died of asphyxiation, alcohol intoxication

The events that preceded the death of a 17-year-old Bishop Gorman High School student last month at a physician's home are still being scrutinized by Henderson police.

But the cause of his death was made clear Tuesday when the Clark County coroner's office said the teen died as a result of asphyxia, or oxygen deprivation, and excessive drinking.

Brady Hunter Caipa was pronounced dead Oct. 30 at the Henderson home of Dr. Michael Crovetti.

Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said Caipa had "near fatal levels of alcohol" in his body before his "accidental death."

"This was not at the hands of another individual," Murphy said of Caipa's death.

Henderson police continue to investigate Caipa's death. Police spokesman Keith Paul said Tuesday afternoon that foul play is not suspected.

The technical terms used to describe Caipa's death included mechanical and positional asphyxia, while a secondary cause of death was acute ethanol intoxication, according to the coroner's office.

Murphy said Caipa's ability to breathe was compromised, but he would not specify how.

He said in general terms, positional asphyxia can occur when an individual's body compromises his or her breathing, while mechanical asphyxia happens when something obstructs an airway.

As an example of mechanical asphyxia, Murphy said a person's breathing could be impeded when the head rests on the rim of a sink or a trash can.

Murphy would not describe how Caipa's body was positioned before his death or what obstructed his breathing, saying such a disclosure would be inappropriate.

Crovetti declined a request for comment Tuesday.

But on Nov. 3, he released a statement saying he and his family were "devastated" by Caipa's death.

Crovetti said in the statement that he felt compelled to comment on the matter because of media reports speculating that Caipa died at a party at the doctor's home where teens were drinking.

"I wanted to clarify the fact that my wife and I did not throw or allow a party to be held at our home on the night of Oct. 30, 2011. Additionally, we have never provided alcohol to our kids or anybody else's underage kids at our home or any place else for that matter."

Crovetti went on to detail his and his wife's whereabouts on the night of Caipa's death.

"On the night in question, my wife and I attended a charity function and Halloween party and had planned a night out, making arrangements for our kids accordingly. My oldest daughter attended a party at another classmate's home and invited some of her friends to our house afterwards."

He said he and his family are cooperating with investigators.

Two doctors said Tuesday that many concerns arise when someone drinks too much.

University Medical Center trauma surgeon Dr. Jay Coates said one danger is that an inebriated person who passes out may lose the gag reflex.

"When that happens and someone throws up, he doesn't gag, and the vomit goes into his lungs and he drowns in his own vomit," Coates said.

Dr. Dale Carrison, head of emergency at UMC, concurred, saying that the body wants to get rid of the alcohol poisoning by expelling the highly toxic mix of bile and acid.

"They do drown in it," he said.

Another concern is that a drunken person can become so relaxed that the airway is blocked, such as when the tongue slips to the back of the throat.

"The person is not going to wake up, and he'll die of asphyxiation," Coates said.

According to his obituary, Caipa, or "Brady Bo," planned to graduate this spring. He was an avid soccer player who enjoyed regular trips to Park City, Utah, where he loved to snowboard.

He is survived by his parents, Carlos and Kimberly; sister, Brytani; and brothers, Zachary, Nicolas and Royce.

Review-Journal writer Paul Harasim contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@ or 702-383-4638.