Tori Bowie died of childbirth complications.
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Olympian Tori Bowie Died From Childbirth Complications, Autopsy Concludes

Officials believe the world champion sprinter might have been suffering from complications including respiratory distress and eclampsia.

Three time Olympic medalist Tori Bowie was eight months pregnant when she died at the age of 32 years old. In early May, the world champion sprinter was found dead at her Florida home after police were asked to do a wellness check as Bowie had not heard from in several days. A month after her passing, an autopsy has concluded that Bowie tragically died due to childbirth complications.

Bowie’s representatives at Icon Management announced in a statement that the Olympian had died. “We’re devasted [sic] to share the very sad news that Tori Bowie has passed away,” the statement posted on social media on May 3 read. “We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister. 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.” The Orange County Sheriff’s Department had sent officers to her home to “conduct a well-being check of a woman in her 30s who had not been seen or heard from in several days,” according to the Associated Press. The cause of Bowie’s death was not shared at the time, but police did confirm that “no foul play” was involved.

About a month later, on June 12, Bowie’s representative Kimberly Holland told CBS News that an autopsy has concluded that the Olympian died from childbirth complications. “Unfortunately, so many people, including the media, are making speculations that she did something to herself, which is very hurtful,” Holland told the news outlet. “So hopefully, now knowing the truth, there will be many apologies.”

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

An autopsy report from the Orange County medical examiner shared by USA Today revealed that Bowie died in labor while delivering a “well developed” fetus. She was eight months pregnant. Bowie died of natural causes, according to the autopsy report. Officials believe Bowie might have been suffering from complications including respiratory distress and eclampsia, a complication of preeclampsia that causes seizures during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. According to the Cleveland Clinic, eclampsia is rare and “affects less than 3% of people with preeclampsia,” most commonly after the 20th week of pregnancy.

News of Bowie’s death due to childbirth complications comes as the United States continues to battle a Black maternal health crisis. Black mothers are three times more likely to die due to pregnancy-related issues than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New data from the CDC has found that maternal mortality rates overall are rising, with Black women facing the highest risk or maternal death. Experts have noted that there are several factors contributing to the disparity in Black maternal mortality rates including implicit bias, racism, quality of healthcare, and potential underlying chronic conditions.

Fellow Olympians and moms Allyson Felix and Serena Williams have addressed these very issues that put Black mothers at risk. Williams, for example, wrote an essay detailing her “life or death” experience welcoming her now 5-year-old daughter Olympia where she struggled through a traumatic birth experience. “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 2020. “Many of these deaths are considered by experts to be preventable. Being heard and appropriately treated was the difference between life or death for me; I know those statistics would be different if the medical establishment listened to every Black woman’s experience.”