The mystery surrounding Wood’s death from drowning near Catalina Island has not dissipated even after 30 years. Wood was on an anchored yacht the night of November 29, 1981 with her husband Robert Wagner and a skipper when she took a fatal fall off of the boat. The official theory is that Wood either tried to leave the yacht or to secure a dinghy when she accidentally slipped and fell overboard. A woman on a nearby yacht said she heard calls for help at around midnight that were answered by someone else who said, “Take it easy. We’ll be over to get you.” “It was laid back,” the witness recalled. “There was no urgency or immediacy in their shouts.”
The reportedly cavalier attitude toward her situation has often been attributed to the large amount of alcohol Wood and her husband drank that evening. While it has never been proven that the woman calling for help was, indeed, Natalie Wood, no other person has ever been identified or come forward as having called out for help on that night. An investigation by the Los Angeles County coroner included a report that Wood’s fingernail scratches had been found on the side of the rubber dinghy indicating she was trying to get in.
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