'Zombie Boy' Rick Genest's death accidental, says coroner

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Rick GenestImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Rick Genest was known internationally as "Zombie Boy"

A Canadian coroner says that the 2018 death of model and artist Rick Genest appears to have been accidental.

Genest, better known as "Zombie Boy", died from a severe head injury after falling from a third-floor balcony in Montreal, Canada, according to the coroner's report.

He was famous for his extensive body art, including bone and organ tattoos covering much of his body.

Genest made appearances in Lady Gaga's Born This Way video in 2011.

He also modelled for French fashion designer Thierry Mugler, appeared in Vogue Japan and was once the face of Jay-Z's Rocawear fashion label.

The coroner's report, released on Monday following an investigation into his death, says he was found on the ground outside a friend's home by a passerby at around 17:15 local time (21:15 GMT) on 1 August 2018.

He was bloody and unresponsive.

He was "strongly intoxicated" by alcohol, with almost three times the legal driving limit of the substance in his blood. There were also traces of cannabis.

Following his death, there was speculation he died by suicide, a conclusion rejected by his family and management team.

While the coroner was not completely able to rule out suicide, she said that though he had sought help for mental illness in the past, he did not appear to be struggling with symptoms like psychosis at the time of his death.

Image source, AFP via Getty Images
Image caption,
Rick Genest modelled for French designer Thierry Mugler in 2011

His family and friends reported he had been happy in the previous weeks, was recently engaged to be married, and was feeling motivated by several artistic projects he was working on.

Cameras inside the building showed Genest going on to the balcony alone and appearing to place a cigarette into his mouth.

Loved ones told the coroner's office he would sometimes sit on balcony railings when he went outside for a cigarette.

Coroner Mélissa Gagnon said that he appeared to have fallen from the balcony of a nearby building, though there were no witnesses to the actual event.

"Considering that habit and his very advanced state of inebriation, it is plausible that Mr Genest accidentally fell from the balcony," her report states.

If you are in the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you are struggling with mental health issues.

You can also get help at the BBC Advice pages.