[Gagne, 82, and still defending that belt.]
The only thing I can think of to set off an old wrestler like Gagne, 82, and put him in the mood to throw nursing home resident Helmut Gutmann, age 97, around and possibly kill him, is if Guttman told Gagne he thought wrestling was fake. Gagne’s well-known feuds with other Germans, like Baron von Raschke, may also have been a factor. The Minneapolis Star Trib reports it here.
Minnesota pro wrestling legend Verne Gagne had an altercation with a fellow resident of a Bloomington health care facility, leading to the man’s death, a relative said today.
The incident between Gagne and Helmut Gutmann, 97, occurred Jan. 26 at the memory loss section of Friendship Village, said Ruth Hennig, a daughter of Gutmann.
Gutmann, who immigrated to the United States in 1936 as the Nazi threat grew, suffered a broken right hip and died Feb. 14.
“No one knows” what led to the altercation, said Hennig, in a telephone interview this morning from Boston. “I don’t think anyone was present when it began … or even if anything precipitated it.”
She said that because of her father’s dementia, he had “no memory at all” of his clash with Gagne and “didn’t understand why his hip hurt.”
The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office, Hennig said, has told the family that Gutmann’s death was “accidental.” However, medical examiner’s office investigator Mike Opitz said that a cause of death “hasn’t been officially certified.” State health officials, who regulate facilities such as Friendship Village, are unable to comment, citing data restrictions.
Police are investigating the death and trying to determine whether to recommend charges to the Hennepin County attorney’s office, said Deputy Chief Perry Heles.
Hennig said her family has yet to discuss whether they want Gagne prosecuted. “We’re still dealing with the death on an emotional level,” she said. “My mother [Betty] is pretty upset.”
Hennig added that the two men had clashed previously. “I don’t really know any details, but obviously it was not as severe as this,” she said.