The death of Madelaine Crawley, an Australian backpacker, in far away Italy set off a flurry of media speculations over drinking, dancing and drugs. But now it turns out she could have died of deep vein thrombosis.
The attractive 23-year-old, who had been enjoying the holiday of a lifetime on a tour through Europe, was found motionless in her bed the morning after partying in the open in Rome on Thursday.
AdvertisementShe had suffered massive cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital but could not be revived.
Initial media reports from Italian newspapers claimed she may have died after consuming a deadly cocktail of alcohol and drugs, but Madelaine's uncle Bruce Melville said doctors believe DVT, a condition involving blood clots in veins after extended periods of air travel, was the most likely cause.
Untreated, DVT, often nicknamed economy class syndrome, claims the life of about three per cent of patients, with the risk of clots travelling to major organs such as lungs or the heart.
Madelaine's body is expected to be returned to Australia in the next seven-to-ten days, though final toxicology results are not expected for up to two months.
In the days before her death, the Tweed Coast resort worker had spoken to her parents about pain from swollen ankles and legs since she landed in London two weeks ago. A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said consular officials in Rome were working closely with local authorities and the Contiki tour company.
A 29-year-old New South Wales woman who was also hospitalised at the same time as Madelaine, has been released from hospital.
Italian newspapers had reported a "sea of alcohol bottles" at the campsite and claimed that Ms Crawley was taking anti-depressant prescription drugs.
But family and friends find it hard to accept that drugs played any part in her death. Uncle Melville said it was comforting for her family to be told that drugs might not have played any role in her death.
Colleagues at Tweed Coast resort Peppers, where Ms Crawley worked in reservations for four years, said she had been a popular member of staff.
"She was well-loved by all ... it is a very sad time," a spokeswoman said.
High school friend Oscar Van Megchelen says the 23-year-old, who grew up in the Cudgera Creek-Pottsville area on the far north coast of NSW, loved the beach lifestyle and was "always happy-go-lucky."
"She was a very down-to-earth girl, very nice to everyone and very passionate about her family," Mr Van Megchelen said.