Former child TV star Gary Coleman was bleeding from the back of his head and “bubbling at the mouth” after falling at his Santaquin home but still tried to get up, his distraught wife told a Utah emergency dispatcher in a 911 tape released Wednesday.
The call was made by Shannon Price on May 26, two days before Coleman died of a brain hemorrhage at age 42 after being removed from life support.
“I just don’t want him to die,” Price tells the female dispatcher during the nearly six-minute call. “I’m freaking out like really bad.”
In the call Price said she’s not sure whether Coleman had a seizure or whether he hit his head and fell. She said he had just gotten home and was going downstairs to make some food for her and that she then heard a “big bang.”
“Send someone quick because I don’t know if he’s like gonna be alive cause there’s a lot of blood on the floor,” Price said.
Coleman is lethargic and Price says she “can’t really help him” and can’t drive or handle too much stress because she has seizures.
“I don’t even know what happened. …I looked at the back of his head and it’s all bloody and gross,” Price said, later reporting to the dispatcher, “He’s conscious but he’s not, like, with it.”
Santaquin Police Chief Dennis Hammond has said Coleman had a dialysis treatment on the day of the 911 call. It’s unclear whether that may have been related to Coleman’s fall. Santaquin is about 55 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Coleman’s short stature of 4-foot-8 stemmed from kidney problems and required at least two transplants earlier in his life and dialysis. Last fall, he had heart surgery complicated by pneumonia, his Utah attorney, Randy Kester, has said. In February, he suffered a seizure on the set of “The Insider.”
During the call Price can be heard calling out to Coleman and telling him not to move and to sit down.
“You need to sit down, Gary, sit down,” she told him.
The dispatcher asks Price to get a towel for Coleman to apply pressure to the back of his head.
“I’m just panicked I don’t know what to do,” Price said. “When are they (emergency services) going to be here, do you know?”
Coleman was conscious at the hospital that day but slipped into unconsciousness Thursday and was taken off life support Friday with family at his side.
A Santaquin police report released Wednesday largely reflects what Price says in the call. The report says an officer who arrived at the house asked Coleman if he could say what happened.
“He looked at me and stated that he could not remember,” the report says.
The officer writes in the report that Coleman had a laceration in the back of his head 1 to 1 1/4 inches long. Price spoke to officers from over the upstairs hand rail to avoid having to see blood on the floor, the officer wrote.
“While waiting for medical personnel I could tell that Mr. Coleman was weak,” the report says. “He would act like he was about to pass out.”
The officer writes that while waiting for medical personnel to arrive he looked around the kitchen for any areas of possible impact besides the tile floor and couldn’t find blood anywhere else.
The report says that, with assistance, Coleman was able to walk out of the home and into the garage where a gurney was waiting.
Funeral services are planned in Salt Lake City this weekend, though an exact day hasn’t been announced and it’s not clear whether the services will be private or public.
Coleman starred for eight seasons on the sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” starting in 1978. The tiny 10-year-old’s “Whachu talkin’ ’bout?” was a staple in the show about two African-American brothers adopted by a wealthy white man. Coleman played Arnold Jackson, the younger of the two brothers.
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