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Nancy Kerrigan buries dad after tragic death

The funeral for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan's father is under way in Massachusetts.
Image: Nancy Kerrigan, Brenda Kerrigan
Former Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan mourns with her mother, Brenda, outside St. Patrick Church in Stoneham, Mass., on Thursday.Elise Amendola / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The funeral for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan's father is under way in Massachusetts.

The former Olympian buried her face in a relative's back and appeared to weep as the flag-draped casket was carried into St. Patrick's Church in Stoneham Thursday.

Family remembered 70-year-old Daniel Kerrigan as a dedicated father and grandfather with a great sense of humor.

He died Sunday after what authorities say was a violent struggle with his son, Mark Kerrigan. Family members say he died of an unrelated heart attack.

The 45-year-old Mark Kerrigan has pleaded not guilty to assault. Authorities are awaiting tests on the cause of his father's death.

'Behind me always'
Nancy Kerrigan said in statement that her dad was "my support ... behind me always," and remembered how he had taken her to the rink at 5 a.m. every morning to train.

Her brother was sent for a psychological evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital after being charged.

At his arraignment on Monday, he repeatedly rubbed the knuckles of his handcuffed hands and at one point put his head in his hands and wept.

Family members said the death of Daniel Kerrigan, who rushed to the sobbing Nancy and carried her into a locker room after the 1994 attack on her, was unrelated to the argument with his son early Sunday.

Daniel Kerrigan's wife, Brenda Kerrigan, told the Boston Herald newspaper that there was nothing suspicious about the death.

Mark Kerrigan, who has a history of domestic violence arrests and was sued by his parents to recover money they spent for taking care of his home while he was in jail, was being held on $10,000 bail.

He was released from jail in 2007, according to his lawyer, but it wasn't immediately clear why he was serving time or for how long he served.

'Intensity of competition'
The death of Daniel Kerrigan comes as the national spotlight again turns to one of the most popular sports in the upcoming Olympic Games, just weeks away.

The intensity of competition among skaters was never more apparent than in 1994, when an assailant clubbed Nancy Kerrigan on her right knee during practice at the U.S. Championships.

An investigation later revealed rival Tonya Harding had knowledge of the planning of the attack, and U.S. Figure Skating banned her for life.

Daniel Kerrigan, a welder, and his wife nurtured the love of skating in their daughter, who was a self-described tomboy with two hockey-playing big brothers. He drove a Zamboni ice-cleaning machine at the local rink in exchange for practice ice time, and he and his wife took out a second mortgage on their home to help pay for Nancy's skating lessons.

He was found on the floor of his home, unconscious, by officers responding to an emergency call at 1:30 a.m. Sunday. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Police said Mark Kerrigan appeared intoxicated when he was found on a couch in the basement of the home and was "belligerent and combative" but coherent when questioned.

"He stated that he wanted to use the phone and his father would not let him," the arresting officer wrote in a report. "He said he struggled with his father and put his hands around his father's neck and his father fell to the floor."

The officers said they saw blood near where Daniel Kerrigan had been treated by emergency workers and signs of a struggle, including three pictures that had apparently been knocked off a wall and a broken piece of the telephone.

Defense attorney Denise Moore said Mark Kerrigan was "extremely distraught over the death of his father".

Nancy Kerrigan, who took the bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and gold at the 1993 U.S. Championships, married her manager, Jerry Solomon, in 1995. They live in Lynnfield and have three children together.