ST. LOUIS - Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was drunk and talking on his cell phone at the time of his fatal accident, and marijuana was found in the sport utility vehicle he was driving.

Medical examiner Michael Graham said at a news conference yesterday that the 29-year-old reliever was dead "within seconds" from head injuries in the crash early Sunday on Interstate 64 in St. Louis. His speeding vehicle hit the back of a tow truck parked on the highway to assist a driver from a previous accident.

"There is nothing at all that could have been done for him," Graham said.

Hancock's blood-alcohol level was 0.157, nearly twice Missouri's legal limit of 0.08, Graham said.

Police Chief Joe Mokwa said 8.55 grams of marijuana and a glass pipe used to smoke marijuana were found in the rented Ford Explorer. Toxicology tests on Hancock had not been completed.

Hancock was not wearing a seat belt, but Graham said the belt would not have saved his life.

Mokwa said Hancock was speaking with a female acquaintance about baseball and baseball tickets and that the conversation ended abruptly, apparently when the accident occurred. A police report said Hancock told the female acquaintance he was on his way to another bar, and that he planned to meet her there.

Hancock, a key reliever on the World Series championship team last season, was driving alone.

Teammate Jim Edmonds said he didn't think Hancock had a drinking problem. "Were we concerned when he didn't show up on time for a day game? I can say I was," he said. "I wasn't concerned with him being out."

Before last night's game against the Astros, the team banned alcohol in the clubhouse and said it was considering banning alcohol on the road. *