The death of the artist and model known as Zombie Boy has been ruled as accidental, according to a Quebec coroner’s report released on Monday.
The artist, whose real name was Rick Genest, died at the age of 32 in August 2018. His death created shockwaves in both Montreal and the international art scene.
Quebec coroner Mélissa Gagnon has concluded that Genest died of head trauma after he fell from a balcony on the third floor of an apartment building. He was found lifeless at the foot of the building where one of his close friends lived in Montreal.
“It was an accidental death,” Gagnon wrote.
Genest, who rose to prominence in both his hometown and abroad, was known for his unique head-to-toe body art. Over his career, he walked fashion runways and appeared in a Lady Gaga video.
In her report, Gagnon wrote that Genest was on a balcony smoking when he fell on the evening of Aug. 1, 2018. She found that surveillance footage reveals no one else was seen going outside with him, which rules out homicide.
While there had initially been reports that Genest had died by suicide, Gagnon found he was happy at the time of his death and “highly motivated by his many artistic projects.” He had also recently gotten engaged and the investigation “did not reveal a clear and unequivocal intention to end his life.”
As part of the autopsy, toxicology analysis found Genest was “highly intoxicated.” At the time of the fall, Genest’s blood alcohol concentration was almost three times the legal limit to drive and cannabis was also detected in his blood.
As a result, Gagnon believes it is plausible that Genest accidentally fell from the balcony.
While emergency services were immediately called and CPR was performed, the coroner’s report says Genest’s death was confirmed at Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal.
Karim Leduc, a close friend of Genest and his manager, told a crowd of reporters on Monday that it was unfair for loved ones to wait more than a year for the coroner’s report but that the conclusions didn’t surprise them.
He described Genest as a person with “a lot of ambition” and who always had new ideas for artistic projects.
“Everything in his life was on track to lead to beautiful things so it for sure came as a surprise,” he said.
— With files from Global News’ Anne Leclair and the Canadian Press