Accidental drug overdose killed Ledger: NY coroner

Wed Feb 6, 2008 5:27pm EST
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By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of six prescription drugs, with a mix of painkillers, tranquilizers and sleeping aids found in his system, officials said on Wednesday.

A law-enforcement source with knowledge of the case said a formal request for the city medical examiner's records had been filed on Wednesday, seeking to discover who provided the 28-year-old Australian with the lethal combination.

Ledger, renowned for his role as a conflicted gay cowboy in the 2005 movie "Brokeback Mountain," was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on January 22, naked and with several prescription drugs nearby.

"We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications," the New York City Medical Examiner's Office said in a statement.

"Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine," the statement said.

His death shocked film fans and fellow actors around the world and added his name to the list of movie stars who died young, like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration declined to comment but said the federal agency was committed to identifying any illegally obtained prescription drugs.

Medical experts said it was highly unlikely a single doctor would have prescribed such a mix.   Continued...

<p>Heath Ledger arrives at the 78th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, March 5, 2006. Ledger's death was an accident caused by the abuse of prescription drugs, six of which were found in his body, the New York City medical examiner's office said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>