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Police: Hammond man died of natural causes

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CANTON — State police and the St. Lawrence County coroner said Friday that the death of a Hammond man Feb. 5 was due to natural causes and not a bar fight, as some relatives and friends had alleged.

Investigation and an autopsy concluded that Duane D. Watkins, 53, died of natural causes, state police Senior Investigator Joseph A. Tatro said. That investigation was prompted by calls from people who told troopers that Mr. Watkins had been injured in an altercation, he said.

Investigation revealed that Mr. Watkins fell down outside the Turn-er Inn, Edwardsville, after drinking on Feb. 1, apparently causing a minor head injury, Mr. Tatro said. State police spoke to witnesses and found no evidence of a fight, he said.

Mr. Watkins died at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg. Mr. Tatro and St. Lawrence County Coroner James M. Sienkiewycz said Mr. Watkins’s death was related to an unspecified medical condition, as revealed by an autopsy performed last week.

“Mr. Watkins died of natural causes,” Mr. Sienkiewycz said, although he declined to say what condition caused his death. Toxicology reports are pending, he said.

Efforts to reach a member of Mr. Watkins’s family, as well as management of the Turn-er Inn, were not immediately successful Friday.

Mr. Tatro said the investigation is formally closed, but anyone with information he believes is relevant to the case can contact state police.

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