Carrie Fisher’s autopsy reveals cocktail of drugs, including cocaine, opiates and ecstasy
A Los Angeles County coroner’s report released on Monday revealed a mixture of drugs that were in actress Carrie Fisher’s system when she went into cardiac arrest on an L.A.-bound flight and later died.
Fisher’s toxicology review found evidence of cocaine, methadone, MDMA (better known as ecstasy), alcohol and opiates when she was rushed to Ronald Reagan UCLA Hospital on Dec. 23, a toxicology report showed.
The test results “suggests there was an exposure to heroin, but that the dose and time of exposure cannot be pinpointed.” Therefore we cannot establish the significance of heroin regarding the cause of death in this case.”
The tests revealed that the cocaine would have been consumed within the previous 72 hours, according to the autopsy.
Her cause of death was listed as sleep apnea with other factors.
In addition to the listed cause of death, the coroner’s statement cited “other conditions: atherosclerotic heart disease, drug use.”
It also said: “How Injury Occurred: Multiple drug intake, significance not ascertained.”
At family’s request, medical examiners did not dissect the corpse. Instead, they conducted CT scans of the body.
“In this case the family requested no autopsy,” said Brian Elias, chief of investigations. “We try to honor the family’s wishes when possible.”
Among other observations, examiners noted a tattoo of a moon and stars on the body’s right ankle, and “extensive metallic dental restoration.”
Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, issued a statement to People magazine Friday night linking her mother’s death to drug use.
“My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases,” Lourd told People.
Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, responded to the official cause of death on Friday.
His sister’s battle with drugs and bipolar disorder “slowly but surely put her health in jeopardy over many, many years,” he said. “I honestly hoped we would grow old together, but after her death, nobody was shocked.”
Drug use can exacerbate sleep apnea with potentially fatal results, but the report does not make clear whether Fisher took any drugs on the day in December when she suffered a cardiac incident on the international flight.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles sings during the memorial for Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher near their grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
R2-D2 says goodbye under a giant photograph of Carrie Fisher during the memorial for Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher at the Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in the Hollywood Hills.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Actress Ruta Lee speaks during memorial for Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Students from the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio perform during the memorial for Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
The Gay Men’s Chorus Los Angeles sings during the memorial Under one of the many images that was flashed on a screen in the background.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Dan Aykroyd speaks during the memorial for Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Todd Fisher hugs R2D2 at a memorial for Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
After the memorial, friend Shari Wilson of Los Angeles touches the Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher grave site at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Katie Walker, 35, Of Joshua Tree, has a Princess Leia tattoo on her shoulder. After a memorial for Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, fans visited the grave site at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Her assistant told authorities that Fisher slept most of the flight and had a few apneic episodes during the journey, which was usual, the coroner’s report said. Toward the end of the flight, Fisher could not be stirred awake, the report states. A few minutes later, she began vomiting profusely and slumped over, the report stated.
Before arrival, a pilot told the control tower that nurses onboard were attending to an “unresponsive” passenger.
“They’re working on her right now,” the pilot said in a public recording of the conversation on liveatc.net.
She made her film debut in 1975, starring in the comedy “Shampoo” with Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn. But she etched herself permanently into the consciousness of the movie-going public as Princess Leia in the 1977 sci-fi classic “Star Wars.”
A series of nonfiction books, including “Wishful Drinking” and “The Princess Diarist,” cemented her reputation as a serious author.
In her books and at public speaking events, Fisher was open about her struggles in the movie business and her prickly relationship with her mother. She was also outspoken about her mental health issues and the drastic solution she found: electric shock therapy.
Reynolds had a stroke after her daughter’s death and died Dec. 28.
For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.
2:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Elias.
This article was originally posted at 9 a.m.
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