ROCHESTER, Minn. – Singer and actor Darius Campbell Danesh, who went from a British reality television show to a stage and music career, died from inhaling chloroethane and suffocating, a Minnesota medical examiner found.
The 41-year-old singer and actor was found unresponsive in his apartment in Rochester, Minnesota, on Aug. 11, the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office said. The medical examiner ruled that the death was accidental. Investigators said there were no signs of “intent or suspicious circumstances.”
Danesh’s family said in a statement that he had taken chloroethane for chronic pain that he suffered from since a 2010 car crash in Spain that left him with a broken neck.
“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 led to respiratory arrest,” said the family.
Chloroethane, commonly known as ethyl chloride, is a colorless, flammable gas or refrigerated liquid. In addition to its medical uses, it has also been used as an inhalant street drug.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, to a Scottish mother and Iranian father, Campbell Danesh appeared on the reality show “Popstars” in 2001 and made a splash with his intense interpretation of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.”
He had more success later that year on “Pop Idol,” an early Simon Cowell reality-talent show hybrid that aimed to find a new singing star. He came in third place behind Gareth Gates and Will Young. In 2002, he topped the U.K. charts with the single “Colourblind,” from his debut album “Dive In.”
Campbell Danesh went on to major roles in musicals, including West End productions of “Chicago” and “Guys and Dolls." And he starred as Rhett Butler in a musical stage adaptation of “Gone With the Wind.”
In 2010, he won the reality show “Popstar to Operastar” and later performed in a production of “Carmen” at London’s O2 Arena.