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Heath Ledger Death an Accidental Prescription Drug Overdose


The results of Heath Ledger's autopsy have been released:

"The New York City medical examiner has found the cause of actor Heath Ledger's death to be acute intoxication by the combined effects of a mix of prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety medication. The medical examiner said in its ruling that a combination of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine had been found in Ledger's tissues after preliminary tests showed no result. 'We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications,' a spokesman for the medical examiner's office, Charles Hirsch, said in a statement."

Ledger's family released a statement following the report, which you can read AFTER THE JUMP...


We remain humble as parents and a family, among millions of people worldwide who may have suffered the tragic loss of a child. Few can understand the hollow, wrenching, and enduring agony parents silently suffer when a child predeceases them. Today's results put an end to speculation, but our son's beautiful spirit and enduring memory will forever remain in our hearts.

While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage.

Our family enjoyed an extremely happy two week visit with Heath just prior to the New Year. Those recent precious days will stay with us forever. We as a family feel privileged to have some of his amazing magic moments captured in film. To most of the world Heath was an actor of immeasurable talent and promise. To those who knew him personally, Heath was a consummate artist whose passions also included photography, music, chess and directing. We knew Heath as a loving father, as our devoted son, and as a loyal and generous brother and friend.

We treasure our beautiful granddaughter Matilda (to our dear Michelle) as well as an unbelievably wonderful network of close friends, forever, around the world. Families rarely experience the uplifting, warm and massive outpouring of grief and support as have we, from every corner of the planet. This has deeply and profoundly touched our hearts and lives. We are eternally grateful.

At this moment we respectfully request the worldwide media allow us time to grieve privately, without the intrusions associated with press and photography.

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  1. i always knew it, you are vindicated my darling, rest in peace...

    Posted by: the queen | Feb 6, 2008 10:48:18 AM

  2. so he "accidentally" took Vicodin, Valium, Percocet, Xanax, Restoril, AND NyQuil.

    Some accident! Whoops!

    Posted by: JLS | Feb 6, 2008 10:57:59 AM

  3. This only confirms how much of a tragedy Heath's death is. And now we'll be treated to another round of lurid coverage by the media.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 6, 2008 11:00:20 AM

  4. I was kinda thinking the same thing. How does one end up with all of these in their system at once?

    Posted by: Scott | Feb 6, 2008 11:01:53 AM

  5. What this doesn't say is how two adult idiots listened to him struggling to breath for nearly two hours before waiting another hour to call 9-1-1! I don't understand is why the housekeeper, the "masseuse", and the Full House bitches haven't been charged with gross negligence.

    What a stupid, stupid waste!

    David B.

    Posted by: David B. | Feb 6, 2008 11:04:56 AM

  6. How does someone actually GET, not to mention TAKE this many pills???

    Posted by: Chux | Feb 6, 2008 11:06:09 AM

  7. That's a hell of a lot of drugs. I'm glad to hear it was not suicide, but something sure must have been bothering that boy. There were powerful pain killers in that bunch, but I'm willing to bet that the pain was psychological.

    Posted by: mike in the Tundra | Feb 6, 2008 11:07:52 AM

  8. Chux, there are plenty of doctors who will hand out whatever you want, especially if you're famous.

    Having experimented with nearly all of those meds at one time or another, I also have a hard time believing this was an accident. Presumably he was familiar with their effects, and combining them like that doesn't even really make sense from a drag user perspective---drug users want to feel good. Mixing all those would be counterproductive, and mixing benzos with most anything is unpredictable and usually messy.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 6, 2008 11:13:51 AM

  9. No regrets, Coyote.

    Posted by: Princess Superstar | Feb 6, 2008 11:20:28 AM

  10. As outrageous as this might seem, I was thinking. What if the masseuse and the house keeper found Mr Ledger with a suicide note? Thus, prompting those few "what should we do?" phone calls between Ms Olson and the masseuse. Perhaps Ms Olson informed them to take the note so the police don't find it and give it to the family, so the press doesn't get a hold of it and it stays a private matter. Ok, far fetched, but I wouldn't doubt something like this would happen. How else could these medications been in the system as accidental? Those drugs have anywhere from a 6-20 hour half life, so they must have been taken in close proximity of one another.

    However, in the end, we should all let the man rest in peace. It's a tragedy.

    Posted by: Cory | Feb 6, 2008 11:26:45 AM

  11. Oh my God, that picture makes him look like Venessa Redgrave in Playing for Time.

    Posted by: Crixi Van Cheek | Feb 6, 2008 11:37:41 AM

  12. I don't know how he could have been conscious enough to take that many drugs but then again, everyone is different. Apparently in demand "on the street" oxycodone does nothing for me, but meanwhile temazepam works wonders.

    I suspect that the snoring the housekeeper and the non-licenced masseuse heard was him in the process of dying - since many of these drugs act on respiration.

    Posted by: Wade | Feb 6, 2008 11:48:50 AM

  13. The medical examiner's autopsy report only underscores the needless tragedy of Heath Ledger's death. For those who wonder how someone could "accidentally" take a lethal amount of drugs of the kind that Mr. Ledger was taking--even if one is not technically "abusing" these drugs--the answer is simple. Some of these drugs remain in one's system for a longer period even after their effects seemingly have worn off. It is very easy to take these drugs regularly and not be aware that one is building up a level of toxicity. The key finding was that Mr. Ledger had Nyquil in his system. Nyquil is one of the deadliest of the OTC drugs when it is combined with the accumulative effects of the other prescription drugs Mr. Ledger was taking. This is the same drug--in combination with a cocktail of other prescription drugs--that killed the actor, River Phoenix. Whatever the reason, it still is a very sad and terrible tragedy. God rest his troubled soul.

    Posted by: mike | Feb 6, 2008 11:56:36 AM

  14. suicide.

    Posted by: JEZ | Feb 6, 2008 12:09:42 PM

  15. Playing alphabet soup with powerful drugs like that is extremely careless. Even mixing oxy or vicodin with boooze is dangerous. It's so sad, but how can someone not know what they are doing with these dangerous medications. Who gave them to him? Did he have prescriptions?

    Posted by: busytimmy | Feb 6, 2008 12:15:38 PM

  16. Mike: Wrong. River Phoenix was not killed by Nyquil! Where the hell did you hear that retarded story?

    He died doing speedballs, a combination of heroin and cocaine.

    Posted by: crispy | Feb 6, 2008 12:33:10 PM

  17. David B.

    I'm with you. You can bet that if it were you or I that called a third party after finding someone who appeared to be deceased - before calling 911 - especially after having heard him breating while we were there - the police would not let us off as they have the housekeeper, masseuse and the Olson.

    Posted by: Wade | Feb 6, 2008 1:03:13 PM

  18. I find the whole thing highly suspicious. I don't buy it. Heath was a serious cocaine abuser. There is a cover up here.

    Posted by: Helen | Feb 6, 2008 2:45:48 PM

  19. Where are you getting NyQuil? I have not read that anywhere. The only OTC(I think it's OTC) med listed was Unisom, a sleeping aid. And if you read the report it states 'death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.' ABUSE, which means he used the drugs in a manner other than their prescribed purpose. Only he knows if it was his intention to die or just an unexpected side affect. And whats with the pic of him? With all the great ones, you choose one that makes him look gaunt, bags under the eyes, skinny etc...all the earmarks of an addict.
    Side note: River Phoenix died from a speedball, but they also found OTC cold meds in his body. The combination is probably a factor in the speedball going deadly. But as many said, its over, let him rest in peace.

    Posted by: Badboy | Feb 6, 2008 4:12:40 PM

  20. When I lived in the USA and had back pain, and couldn't get decent physiotherapy services, my doctor prescribed me a similar concoction of drugs without even blinking. I didn't even realize what oxycodone, hydrocodone were until some weeks later.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 6, 2008 4:18:11 PM

  21. Helen were you in room with him?
    Didn't think so, STFU!

    Posted by: KY | Feb 6, 2008 5:11:02 PM

  22. good call KY ... Helen, STFU, you're an idiot. no traces of (or the paraphernalia to use) ANY illicit drugs were found at Ledger's loft: no cocaine, no pot, no H, no meth, no nothing. You're trashing a good guy who I'm willing to bet never did one bad thing to you.

    Posted by: mike | Feb 6, 2008 5:50:14 PM

  23. Just one Valium will knock me on my ass. That combination of drugs is pretty amazing.

    Posted by: Ted S | Feb 6, 2008 5:52:28 PM

  24. We live in the era of "take a pill, make the problem go away".

    The problem with the US is that, well at least in LA, there seems to be a new Rite Aid or Walgreens opening up each week. Is this city so freaking medicated when it really is not necessary?

    I think so.

    Posted by: FunMe | Feb 6, 2008 10:39:41 PM

  25. There's nothing wrong with the photo. He posed for it. It's him. May he rest in peace.

    Posted by: Patrick | Feb 7, 2008 12:38:17 AM

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