Former USC football star Kevin Ellison’s death ruled an accident

Kevin Ellison at a USC football practice on Aug. 15, 2006.
(Los Angeles Times)

Former USC football player Kevin Ellison died of blunt force trauma after being hit by a minivan while walking on the 5 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley in October, according to an autopsy report released Friday.

“Based on the history, circumstances and/or exam as I currently know them, the manner of death is accident,” the Los Angeles County deputy medical examiner wrote.

The autopsy report found marijuana in Ellison’s system at the time of death, but no other drugs or alcohol.

Ellison, 31, was a two-time All-Pac-10 Conference selection who played briefly for the San Diego Chargers and struggled with mental health issues for several years.


He ran off — telling a neighbor someone was trying to kill him — and disappeared after his family tried to take him to a hospital for a 72-hour psychiatric hold on Oct. 2.

Two days later, Ellison was struck and killed around 11 p.m. in the 5 Freeway’s northbound lanes near San Fernando Mission Boulevard in Mission Hills.

“The decedent was reportedly standing in the No. 3 lane with his hands raised in the air prior to impact,” the autopsy report said.

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The deputy medical examiner added: “Reportedly, he was increasingly complaining in recent weeks of stress and mental health difficulties.”

Ellison’s family donated his brain to Boston University researchers who study repetitive head trauma in athletes and military personnel. The testing will take several months to complete.

Twitter: @nathanfenno