World champion sprinter and three-time Olympic medalist Tori Bowie died from childbirth complications while in labor, according to an autopsy report.
Her agent Kimberly Holland confirmed the findings of the report from the Orange County Medical Examiner Office, which was obtained by multiple news outlets. Bowie had a “well developed fetus” and was estimated to be eight months pregnant at the time of her death in May, per the report.
Bowie’s complications may have included respiratory distress and eclampsia, a condition in which a person can develop seizures or go into a coma during pregnancy following a sudden spike in high blood pressure, per the report.
“Eclampsia typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. It’s rare and affects less than 3% of people with preeclampsia. Eclampsia can cause complications during pregnancy and requires emergency medical care,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Studies have shown that Black women in the United States have a greater risk of preeclampsia. Allyson Felix, an Olympic teammate of Bowie’s, had to undergo an emergency C-section due to severe preeclampsia.
Star tennis player Serena Williams also had pregnancy complications. She had to have a C-section with daughter Olympia after developing blood clots in her lungs and a hematoma in her abdomen.
“In the U.S., Black women are nearly three times more likely to die during or after childbirth than their white counterparts,” Williams wrote in a first-person essay for Elle. “Many of these deaths are considered by experts to be preventable.”
Bowie was found dead in her home on May 2 after Orange County Sheriff deputies conducted a welfare check following reports that a woman in her early 30s “had not been seen or heard from in several days.” The medical examiner ruled her manner of death as natural.
“We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister,” Icon Management, which represented Bowie, said in a Twitter statement. “Tori was a champion…a beacon of light that shined so bright! We’re truly heartbroken and our prayers are with the family and friends.”
A program provided at Bowie’s funeral service on May 13 said she was preceded in death by a daughter, according to the New York Times. An official at the Orange County medical examiner’s office confirmed a “baby Bowie” but declined to provide further information.
Holland told the New York Times that Bowie had “backed away” in recent years.
“But she always found her way back because of the bond we had,” she said, noting that Bowie had been excited about the pregnancy. She had made plans to go to Atlanta so that Holland could help her raise the baby.
“It was one of the best conversations we’ve had in a long time,” Holland said Monday. “We just giggled like schoolgirls, we laughed so hard my stomach was hurting.”
A member of Team USA, Bowie won gold at the 2016 Olympics as a member of the 4×100-meter relay team. She also won silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200 at those Games. In 2017, she added another relay gold at the World Athletics Championships, and she won individual gold in the 100.