CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Evel Knievel is dead.
That sentence probably should have been written in 1968, when the daredevil crashed his motorcycle spectacularly as he jumped the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and wound up in a coma.
It probably should have been written in 1974, when his rocket-powered cycle failed as he tried to jump Idaho's Snake River Canyon and he almost landed in the raging water. Or the numerous other times he battered himself while trying to jump something bigger than ever.
Instead, it was written Friday. Natural causes. Age 69.
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"It's been coming for years, but you just don't expect it. Superman just doesn't die, right?" said longtime friend and promoter Billy Rundle. He's the organizer of the annual Evel Knievel Days festival in the daredevil's Butte, Mont., hometown.
Rundle said Knievel had trouble breathing at his Clearwater condominium Friday and died before an ambulance could get him to a hospital.
Knievel had been in failing health for years, suffering from diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scarred his lungs. He had undergone a liver transplant in 1999 after nearly dying of hepatitis C, likely contracted through a blood transfusion after one of his many spills. He also suffered two strokes recently.
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