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Friday June 24th

Antonio Pettigrew death determined a suicide

Assistant track coach found dead Aug. 10

	<p><span class="caps">UNC</span> assistant track and field coach Antonio Pettigrew&#8217;s death was ruled a suicide.</p>
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UNC assistant track and field coach Antonio Pettigrew’s death was ruled a suicide.

An autopsy released Wednesday morning ruled the death of UNC assistant track and field coach Antonio Pettigrew to be a suicide.

Police found Pettigrew dead in his car in Chatham County early in the morning of Aug. 10. He was 42 years old.

The investigation report said that Pettigrew had been dealing with stress at work and that he had been suffering neck pain and prostate problems prior to his death, though it did not reveal any financial issues.

“Antonio’s death was a tragic loss for his family, friends and members of the track community, including the Carolina track and field program,” UNC track and field head coach Dennis Craddock said in a statement. “Our prayers continue to be with his family and everyone who loved Antonio as they deal with that loss.”

The report by Deborah Radisch of the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, lists the official cause of death as diphenhydramine toxicity.

Diphenhydramine is used to treat allergies and sleep loss, and is the active ingredient in Unisom, a sleeping pill that Pettigrew had an open bottle of in his car the morning he was found.

According to the medical examiner’s investigation report, Pettigrew left for work the morning before he was found between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m. At 11 a.m., he called his wife and told her to pray for him when they hung up.

Fellow North Carolina track and field coaches Peter Watson and Raymond Langley called the police at 3:15 a.m., concerned that Pettigrew had not shown up to work the previous day.

UNC associate athletic director Steve Kirschner said Wednesday night that Pettigrew’s assistant coaches declined to comment.

The police retraced Pettigrew’s route to work and eventually found him dead in the back seat of his 2008 Dodge Aspen on a bridge on US-751 near Jordan Lake.

A graduate of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, Pettigrew had spent three years as director of cross country and track and field at Raleigh’s Cardinal Gibbons High School before coming to the University.

At North Carolina, Pettigrew specialized in coaching the team’s sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams.

In his professional career, Pettigrew won a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of the U.S. 1,600-meter relay team.

Eight years later, the International Olympic Committee stripped the team of its gold medals after Pettigrew admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs during the trial of his former coach Trevor Graham.

Pettigrew is survived by his wife, Cassandra, and their son, Antonio Jr.

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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