By Tim Kenneally
“Storage Wars” star Mark Balelo, who was found dead on Monday at the age of 40, committed suicide by inhaling exhaust fumes, the Ventura County medical examiner’s office said.
A representative for the office told TheWrap that Balelo died of asphyxia by inhalation of carbon monoxide and exhaust fumes. TMZ reported previously that Balelo was found in the garage of his Simi Valley, Calif., business, in a car with the engine running.
A toxicology test was not performed on Balelo, who was found two days after his arrest on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of methamphetamine.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and our thoughts are with Mark’s family,” a spokesman for A&E, which airs “Storage Wars,” said in a statement Tuesday.
According to Balelo’s A&E biography, he was born Jan. 31, 1973, in Madeira, Island, Portugal, and lived in Brazil, where his parents moved when he was three years old, until he was 14.
Balelo said in his bio that he moved to the U.S. to pursue his education, attending Orange Coast College and the University of Southern California. After working in the automotive industry, Balelo said, he began selling items on eBay, which eventually led to his own business.
“Storage Wars” has been under scrutiny since former cast member Dave Hester sued in December, claiming the series is rigged. A&E said the lawsuit was baseless.