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Deaths of Surgeon and Girlfriend Ruled Accidental

A Utah County plastic surgeon and his girlfriend -- who police said had a history of domestic conflicts -- died last summer as the result of an accidental drug overdose, authorities said Friday.
Dr. Joseph Berg on CW 30's "The Daily Dish." (CW30)
Dr. Joseph Berg on CW 30's "The Daily Dish." (CW30)
OREM (ABC 4 News) - A Utah County plastic surgeon and his girlfriend -- who police said had a history of domestic conflicts -- died last summer as the result of an accidental drug overdose, authorities said Friday.

Joseph Berg, 47, and Lucy Schwartz, 49, were found dead inside the physician's Orem home last August. Investigators examined all possible causes of death, from murder-suicide to accidental overdose. Ultimately, officials said the evidence can only support one conclusion: the couple died accidentally.

"We can only make the conclusion we did based on what we could prove," said Orem police Sgt. Craig Martinez. "We cannot speculate or share opinions when we don't have the evidence."

Officials said the couple died from an overdose of Isoflurane -- an inhalant typically used to anesthetize patients during surgery. Authorities said it wasn't immediately clear how Berg obtained the drug. (What is Isoflurane?)

Berg operated a successful plastic surgery clinic in Orem until late 2011, when officials say he attacked Schwartz and stranded her inside of a closet. According to police, Schwartz managed to get to a bathroom telephone and call 911. Authorities quickly responded, freed the woman, and arrested Berg -- who later pleaded guilty to felony kidnapping, possession of a controlled substance, and illegal possession of a firearm.
Joseph Berg, appears in court for his sentencing hearing, in the 4th District Court, in Provo, Monday April 23, 2012.  Berg, a plastic surgeon who pleaded guilty to kidnapping, drug and weapons charges for an episode where he kidnapped his girlfriend. (Rick Egan, The Salt Lake Tribune)
Joseph Berg, appears in court for his sentencing hearing, in the 4th District Court, in Provo, Monday April 23, 2012. Berg, a plastic surgeon who pleaded guilty to kidnapping, drug and weapons charges for an episode where he kidnapped his girlfriend. (Rick Egan, The Salt Lake Tribune)
Berg was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of probation. Shortly after he was arrested, Utah medical officials suspended Berg's medical licenses and revoked his authority to write prescriptions for controlled substances.

A former patient of Berg's filed a malpractice lawsuit against him in the summer of 2011, claiming that she nearly died after her surgery.

The couple's deaths occurred on Aug. 27, 2012, just four days after Berg was released from jail. The nature of the deaths and the couple's history of domestic disturbances led investigators to examine whether either of the deaths were intentional. However, officials said there isn't any evidence to support that theory.

MORE:
Police release 911 call from Dr. Berg's home (8/29/2012)
Couple's death still a mystery (8/28/2012)
Woman sues Dr. Berg for malpractice (8/28/2012)
Two bodies found at Dr. Berg's home (8/27/2012)
Plastic surgeon pleads guilty to kidnapping (12/20/2011)
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