IFBB professional bodybuilder Dallas “Big Country” McCarver was pronounced dead at a local Boca Raton hospital in the early morning hours of August 22, 2017. McCarver allegedly choked to death while eating according to his girlfriend. Not surprisingly, this explanation for his death has been widely debated on bodybuilding internet forums. The official cause of death has not yet been publicly released.
The hypothesis that the 26-year old McCarver choked to death has been accepted by most fans primarily because the information came from two people who were very close to McCarver – his girlfriend WWE superstar Dana Brooke and his close friend IFBB pro bodybuilder Josh Lenartowicz.
TMZ reported that Brooke informed them that McCarver choked while eating a late night meal. But it was his friend Lenartowicz who actually discovered McCarver laying face-down on the kitchen floor of his Boca Raton home. Lenartowicz told the 911 operator that he could not administer CPR because McCarver’s airways were obstructed (by food). Brooke rejected any suggestion that there signs of foul play or that McCarver was trying to intentionally harm himself.
The death by choking hypothesis has generated many skeptics. Unfortunately, most of the skeptics are individuals, including news reporters and gossip websites, that are looking for a reason to demonize the lifestyle choices of serious and competitive bodybuilders. Specifically, they are hoping to blame anabolic steroids or some other muscle-building drug(s) for the tragedy.
While many people are instinctively blaming steroids for McCarver’s death, either as a primary cause or contributing factor, most bodybuilders on the internet forums have speculated that, as far as drugs are concerned, the use of insulin may have played a more direct role. Lenartowicz reference to insulin during his conversation with the 911 operator has been used to support this hypothesis.
TMZ reported that Lenartowicz told 911 that McCarver had been using insulin and was worried that insulin may have had something to due with McCarver’s collapse. Of course, it was obvious that Lenartowicz was merely volunteering any and all information that he thought could have helped bring his friend back. Lenartowicz didn’t know what caused McCarver to collapse and was desperately trying to revive him. Lenartowicz’ admission during this dark period doesn’t necessarily get us any closer to actual cause of death.
Lenartowicz was angered that information about McCarver’s drug use that he provided in confidence to 911 was leaked and released to the public. Lenartowicz condemned anyone who would judge McCarver for his lifestyle choices.
“I’m very disappointed and angered at the release of the 911 tape. People are getting entertainment in my darkest hour. Everybody is so anti bullying but this is acceptable. Someone’s life choice is their choice accept that people are different to you. When you are perfect judge others.”
View this post on Instagram
I'm very disappointed and angered at the release of the 911 tape. People are getting entertainment in my darkest hour. Everybody is so anti bullying but this is acceptable. Someone's life choice is their choice accept that people are different to you. When you are perfect judge others. People were blessed to have known @dallasmccarver he was a great human and the world is a little dimmer without his light. #rip
During the 911 call, Lenartowicz also allegedly referenced McCarver’s collapse onstage during pre-judging at 2017 Arnold Classic Australia Grand Prix in March 2017. The incident may or may not be connected to the events precipitating McCarver’s death.
At the end of the day, such speculation is useless in the absence of concrete medical facts about McCarver’s condition. McCarver’s death will most likely be investigated by the local medical examiner. The results may or may not be released to the public.
On the one hand, most bodybuilding fans and supporters of McCarver want to honor his memory and reject the morbid and sensationalistic speculation about the causes behind his death. On the other hand, harm reduction advocates believe that seeking answers behind his death is often warranted to help prevent additional injury and tragedy among other community participants who have made a similar lifestyle choice.
The one undeniable fact about Dallas McCarver is that he was an amazing bodybuilder. He was widely picked to one day win the highly-coveted and most prestigious bodybuilding contest in the world, the Mr. Olympia. McCarver came out of nowhere to earn his pro card at the age of 21 as the Super Heavyweight and Overall Champion at the 2012 IFBB North American Championships. Prior to that huge victory, McCarver had only competed for a year at two other amateur contests.
RIP, Dallas McCarver.