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Formula One test driver Maria de Villota found dead in hotel

Oct. 11, 2013 at 8:44 AM   |   Comments

SEVILLE, Spain, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Spanish Formula One race car test driver Maria de Villota was found dead Friday at a hotel in Seville, her family said. She was 33.

The cause of de Villota's death was not immediately apparent, though police said they found no signs of violence, The Guardian newspaper reported.

"We are assuming it was a natural death, but we cannot confirm anything," a police spokeswoman said, adding that forensic scientists and homicide detectives were investigating the scene.

De Villota underwent major surgery to rebuild her face and skull in November after she crashed a Team Marussia car in July at the Duxford, England, test track. It was her first drive after beginning work for the team.

The driver's family released a statement Friday about her death.

"Dear friends: Maria is gone. She had to go to heaven with all of the angels. Give thanks to God for the year and a half we had left together. Signed, the Villota family," the statement read.

De Villota was expected to launch an autobiographical book about her accident, "Life is a Gift," on Monday, La Vanguardia.com reported.

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