Senior momentPost by: Reece Lightning
// June 12th, 2009 // Quirky
I know this is a golf website but I had to find a way to sneak this story in the back door. I guess the beauty to be taken out of this humdinger is that our game of golf is a game to be played for life. As for pro wrestling… maybe not.
A retired pro-wrestler is believed to have bodyslammed a 97-year-old fellow nursing home patient, causing the man’s death.
Verne Gagne, 83, apparently broke Helmutt Gutmann’s hip in the manouevre at their nursing home in Indiana, US. Mr Gutmann, a former cancer researcher, died three weeks after the incident. Authorities ruled the death was homicide but details of the event are unclear because neither man could recall what happened.
Police are investigating but not even the victim’s widow wants to see Mr Gagne, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, prosecuted. Betty Gutmann says she does not blame Mr Gagne for her husband’s death and believes he had no idea what he was doing. She said most Alzheimer’s victims are old and frail, and when they lash out they do not usually cause much harm. But she added that Mr Gagne “was a professional athlete and was trained to do certain moves. This is what makes him much more dangerous than the ordinary person” with dementia.
Behaviour and personality changes are common as Alzheimer’s progresses and victims of the disease can become agitated. Mr Gagne has lost most of his short-term memory, while his recollection of events long ago remains vivid. There is speculation he was experiencing a flashback to his wrestling days but it is almost impossible to verify. His son, Greg Gagne, a former wrestler himself, said: “It’s been so hard on both families.” Police said they plan to forward the case to prosecutors for possible charges but it is unlikely Mr Gagne will be convicted. Indiana state law prohibits prosecuting anyone without the mental capacity to understand the proceedings or offer a defence.
Since the tragedy he has been moved to another institution. During his glory days as a pro-wrestler, Verne Gagne shared the spotlight with top fighters Killer Kowalski, Mad Dog Vachon, the Crusher and Baron Von Raschke. Gagne is the founder and owner of the American Wrestling Association and wore its championship belt.