JOHN McCARTHY died in a Las Vegas hotel driveway as a result of a tragic accident, the Port Adelaide football operations manager, Peter Rohde, has said.
The Herald has learnt McCarthy's family and girlfriend, Dani Smarrelli, were contacted yesterday to be assured his death was neither deliberate nor suspicious - a finding confirmed by the Las Vegas coroner.
The 22-year-old appears to have climbed down a ladder from the third-storey roof balcony of the Flamingo Hotel onto a lower level where he attempted a failed leap across to a palm tree but instead landed on his back on the bitumen below.
While the results of a toxicology report will not be known for several weeks, it is understood McCarthy had been drinking heavily at a Las Vegas nightclub with his teammates. The Port Adelaide players, who arrived home early yesterday, have told club officials illicit drugs were being regularly offered to them during the four hours McCarthy spent at the nightclub but they had no knowledge of him taking any substance other than alcohol.
Port Adelaide were quick to inform Ms Smarrelli that McCarthy's death, which happened less than 30 minutes after the two had spoken, was an accident. The roof area of the Flamingo Hotel, where McCarthy was seen after wandering several kilometres from his clubbing teammates, was a restricted area meant only for casino staff who used it as a smoking area.
The door was normally locked, according to the hotel, with staff unable to explain how McCarthy had entered the area.
The coroner is understood to have released the body but his office says McCarthy's family has requested that details of his return home remain private.
The AFL Players Association along with the club was providing regular counselling for club players and staff with an emphasis on the group of 10 who were in Las Vegas with McCarthy.
Those teammates were not aware McCarthy was missing until lunchtime on Sunday, Las Vegas time, after they had headed home from the nightclub and slept in their own rooms.
The club believes McCarthy covered almost four kilometres walking from casino to casino.
Although it is believed Smarrelli was concerned enough to contact friends in an attempt to find the other Port players, she has been unable to shed any light on what else took place in the hour or two before McCarthy's death.
''We still don't know and they [the other players] don't know what happened,'' the Port Adelaide chief executive, Keith Thomas, said, ''because after he got separated from them they never saw him again.
''We know there was a situation where he might not have been able to get into a nightclub and went elsewhere.''
The available CCTV recording shows McCarthy entering the Flamingo Hotel, climbing a stairwell and then standing on a mezzanine roof close to 10 metres from the ground. But just how he fell is not known in any detail despite reports in the US media to the contrary.
The Las Vegas coroner reported no suspicious circumstances. The club reported the 22-year-old had no history of depression according to the club doctor and had not been prescribed any medication during his time at Port Adelaide.
A police investigation into the tragedy could take up to six weeks.
with Nick O'Malley