Tragic actor Gary Coleman's death has been hit by a fresh controversy - the woman who told doctors she was his wife and gave permission for them to turn off his life support system was divorced from the actor.
U.S. TV news show Entertainment Tonight has obtained papers confirming that Coleman and Shannon Price had ended their marriage at the time of his death (28May10).
In fact, the documents reveal the couple, who wed in August 2007, didn't make it to their first anniversary as man and wife. Coleman and Price were legally divorced on 12 August, 2008.
Coleman filed for divorce under sealed documents. All court fees were paid for by the actor and no alimony was awarded.
But despite the fact Price was no longer married to the actor when he fell into a coma and died after suffering a brain haemorrhage last week, she was still living with him in Utah - and she gave medics permission to turn off his life support.
A spokesperson for Utah Valley Regional Medical Center - the hospital where Coleman died - tells the news show, "We had no indication that the information Shannon gave us was false. She portrayed herself as his wife."
Coleman's attorney Randy Kester has confirmed the couple was divorced, telling People.com, "At the time of Gary's death, they were not married... Gary wanted me to keep their divorce private, but now that it's been made public, I'm compelled to say it's all true."
Utah Valley Regional Medical Health Center officials have launched an investigation into Coleman's death.
Spokeswoman Janet Frank says, "We're definitely concerned about this and we're looking into what exactly happened here.
"Shannon certainly portrayed herself as his wife to our staff and doctors. We assumed she was telling the truth. We can't comment on specific details in Mr. Coleman's case, but in general, any patient on life support is thoroughly evaluated medically before life support is ended."
Kester adds, "It's possible that Gary gave Shannon the authority in writing at the hospital to make medical decisions for him, but whether he did, I don't know."
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