Death of Dave Mirra: Could it have been CTE?

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – The stunning suicide of BMX icon Dave Mirra rocked Greenville, leaving his fans and community wondering what led him to take his life Thursday afternoon.

Mirra was found dead inside his truck around 4 p.m. Police confirmed that he used his own weapon.

Greenville mayor Allen Thomas said he had spoken with Mirra only hours before his death and said he had no indication there was a problem.

But Mirra’s death raised the question of whether he may have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE. Legendary San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau killed himself after suffering from chronic brain damage.

Thomas, speaking to reporters Friday morning, said he had no idea what led Mirra to take his own life, but said it raised the question of whether the battering of the sport had an impact on Mirra.

Another BMX star, Mat Hoffman, told The Los Angeles Times in 2012 that he had had 100 concussions and called it a “weekly act.” Hoffman told The Times that in action sports, concussions were “a part of the game.”

Tony Hawk told The Chicago Tribune in 2006 that he had had about 10 concussions. And a blog about concussions, TheKnockoutProject.org, has a section devoted to the BMX racing, where BMX racers talk about the issue.

Greenville’s Thomas, in addressing Mirra’s death with reporters on Friday, said:

“I will say this, this is a young man – I’ll call him a young man in his early 40s – that had a pretty rugged sports career and took a lot of injuries in his career. And you have to give pause and think and wonder just as we hear about in brain trauma in football and other sports and activities, whether that played a factor.

“I don’t know that’s the case, but actions on impulse, it really gives pause to think about a one who put his life out there, his body out there for so many years if that’s something that I would, I hope we’re able to solve that mystery like Junior Seau and so many others in the past that we can learn from this. We give our bodies for glory so many times, these athletes and when they get to this part of their career.”

And police chief Mark Holtzman said:

“As far as the question regarding the brain injury, that’s something for the medical side of things. From the legal side of things, the cause of death is apparent. It’s a suicide.

“The reasons that led up to that are good questions to ask, but from a legal standpoint, the medical examiner’s office will be doing a toxicology screen on this. But as far as any further examination, that will have to be between the family and the medical examiner.”WNCN is an affiliate of KOIN 6 News

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