The death of former Scottish Pop Idol star Darius Campbell Danesh has been ruled an accident. The 41-year-old singer who was found unresponsive in his Rochester, Minnesota apartment on August 11 died as a result of what the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s office determined was “inhalation of chloroethane,” according to BBC News.
Chloroethane is also known as ethyl chloride, a colorless, flammable gas typically used in gasoline additives and plastics that is also sometimes used as a recreational inhalant drug. The ingestion of the gas led to respiratory arrest for the singer who first came to fame after finishing third on the first season of the UK’s Pop Idol series, where he landed behind Will Young and Gareth Gates. The coroner’s office listed “toxic effects of chloroethane” and “suffocation” as contributing factors.
“The results of medical examinations have confirmed that Darius’s death was an accident caused by chloroethane, which is used to treat pain and that tragically lead to respiratory arrest,” the singers’ family reportedly said in a statement.
The singer’s family added that Danesh suffered from chronic neck pain as a result of a 2010 car accident, which he had discussed in interviews over the years. Danesh was the passenger in a Porsche when it hit a wall at 70 m.p.h. after hitting an oil patch during a holiday in Spain. He treated his injuries with daily physical therapy, but reportedly rejected any injections for the pain over fears they might damage his vocal cords.
The Scottish performer first burst onto the U.K.’s national spotlight on the short-lived 2001 reality series Popstars, where he made a splash with his inventive, octave-leaping cover of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.” At the time, judge Nigel Lythgoe labeled him a “show-off” for his theatrics, but Danesh pivoted after his elimination by auditioning for Pop Idol later that same year.
On the precursor to American Idol, Danesh made it all the way to the top three with eventual winner Young and runner-up Gates. Following the show, he signed a deal with Mercury Records and wound up releasing two solo albums: 2002’s Dive In and 2004’s Live Twice. His debut single “Colourblind” bowed at No. 1 on the U.K. Official Singles Chart in July 2002 and reigned atop the list for two weeks.