Seven weeks after comedian Bob Saget suddenly died from a head injury in his room at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, Florida, questions continue to swirl about the details of his demise.
There have been no new disclosures about how exactly the well-known 65-year-old comic and actor ended up lying in bed with severe skull fractures after entering his room at the hotel at 2:17 a.m.
Even seemingly straightforward queries about whether the investigation into Saget’s death is open or closed are met with carefully worded responses.
“It’s actually not quite that simple,” an Orange County sheriff’s spokesperson wrote in response to an email from CNN asking about the status of the investigation.
“There is no active investigation happening,” the spokesperson replied. “But the case is not technically closed.”
As unsatisfying as such answers are, it is not uncommon for death investigations to leave lingering questions as to the precise details of how someone died, said William Dunn, a retired Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective.
Nor is it surprising, Dunn said, that investigators would take their time to finalize their report even if they’re operating under the belief that the death was an accident.
“You want to backtrack and make sure you’ve done everything you can to verify it’s an accident,” he said. “Eventually, you’re going to a come to a point where’s there’s nothing left to check. You may end up being able to say we know he hit his head, but we can’t say exactly how it happened because nobody saw it happen.”
In Saget’s case, Orange County’s chief medical examiner said he died of blunt force trauma to the head and classified the death as an accident. But the medical examiner, Dr. Joshua D. Stephany, hedged on how exactly Saget sustained his injuries.
“It is most probable,” Stephany opined, “that the decedent suffered an unwitnessed fall backwards and struck the posterior aspect of his head.”
A law enforcement source familiar with the matter told CNN the sheriff’s office is expected to issue a final report on the death soon, perhaps as early as this week.
People magazine reported last week, citing unnamed sources, that investigators now suspect that Saget “lost consciousness in the bathroom and fell backward onto the marble floor, striking his head.”
He then regained consciousness and made his way into bed where he died, according to the magazine. The article did not detail the evidence on which the purported theory was based and CNN was unable independently verify that investigators have adopted that theory.
Saget’s body was found by hotel security January 9 after a family member called the hotel and expressed concern that he could not be reached, according to an incident report released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. A security guard was dispatched to the room shortly after 4 p.m. and found Saget in a darkened room, alone on the bed, “cold to the touch, yellow and clammy,” according to the report.
A deputy who was summoned to the scene wrote in the report that the room was in “orderly” condition and that he saw no signs of foul play.
The night before Saget was found motionless in his hotel room, the Grammy-nominated standup comedian performed what turned out to be the last show of his “I Don’t Do Negative” tour at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall just outside of Jacksonville, Florida.
After the Ponte Vedra show ended, Saget had a nearly two-and-a-half-hour drive ahead of him back to the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. The police report shows Saget used his key card to enter his room at 2:17 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means he would have had to leave the venue around 11:30 on Saturday night at the latest.
Saget’s widow, Kelly Rizzo, told “Good Morning America” he called her that evening on the way back to the hotel saying what a wonderful show it had been, that he was happy and loving what he did.
A social media post on Saget’s Instagram account after he was back at the hotel read, “I had no idea I did a two hour set tonight. I’m back in comedy like I was when I was 26. I guess I’m finding my new voice and loving every moment of it.”
A final tweet from Saget’s account at 3:42 a.m. could suggest he was alive at least an hour and a half after coming back to room 962 of the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. But the details of what happened between the time of the tweet and when he was found by security more than 12 hours later remain unknown – or at least have not been explained publicly.
Saget’s publicist could not be reached before publication of this story to confirm whether the comedian ran his own social media accounts.
Saget was found with multiple fractures in his skull and the roofs of both eye sockets, according to the autopsy report. A toxicology screen revealed the presence of some prescription drugs, but nothing the medical examiner noted as a contributing factor in Saget’s death. No alcohol or illegal substances were found.
Uncertainties about the full circumstances around Saget’s death are due in part to a court order blocking public access to the further release of records and photographs related to the death and investigation. The order was granted at the request of Saget’s family based on privacy concerns. It is unclear whether the court order will prevent the public release of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office’s final report.
Lacking answers, conspiracy theories about Saget’s death have taken hold online, including a baseless theory that Saget died as a result of the Covid-19 vaccine. The autopsy report shows Saget tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr. Neha Dangayach, an assistant professor of neurosurgery and neurology at Mount Sinai in New York, was careful not to speculate on the specifics of Saget’s injuries, noting there is much we don’t know about his condition and medical history.
However, she explained that head trauma can at times seem less severe than it turns out to be. An initial fall doesn’t even have to break the skin but can cause internal bleeding and lead to pressure building up in the skull, causing a life-threatening “secondary neurological injury” if not treated in time, she said.
People who suffer from skull fractures will likely have a headache and “you would anticipate” that they’d ask for help, Dangayach said.
So, in Saget’s case, “it’s very, very hard to know exactly what may have happened,” she said.