Heath Ledger Autopsy Leaves Questions

heath-ledger-4.jpgHeath Ledger Autopsy Leaves Questions
Medical Examiner says 10-14 days before cause of death known – At the time of his death actor suffered from pneumonia

By Jeffrey Jolson for Hollywood Today

HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS) January 24, 2008 – An autopsy on Oscar-nominated actor Heath Ledger was inconclusive, and more tests are needed, the medical examiner’s office said Wednesday, a day after he was found dead with sleeping pills nearby. Read the rest of the story at Hollywood Today

A cause-of-death determination will take 10 to 14 days, a medical examiner’s spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said. Police on Wednesday said they found bottles of prescription sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication in his bedroom and in the bathroom; there were still pills in the bottles.  Heather is also reported as having pneumonia at the time of his death.

The results, or rather lack of them is not surprising. While Ledger had previously admitted taking sleep medication Ambien, it would take many pills to cause death unless taken in conjunction with other meds. If there is a mix of drugs, or complications from an existing medical condition, it takes time until the coroner completes a toxicology report and unveils conclusive findings, as happened with Anna Nicole Smith.

He said in a November interview that two Ambiens only kept him asleep for an hour. One scenario has him taking a significantly larger dose, or in combination with other sleep or anxiety meds in a mistaken effort to get longer nights sleep.

Ledger was found on his stomach, making accidental asphyxiation from a mild overdose unlikely, according an expert.

He was likely jet-lagged, having recently flown in from London where he was working on a film in London with director Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame on his new movie, ‘The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus.’

Meanwhile, the makeshift memorial of flowers continued to grow outside the Soho apartment that he died in on Tuesday.

Early Wednesday,Michelle Williams, his former fiancee from whom he had recently separated and their 2-year-old daughter Matilda left Trollhattan, Sweden, where the 27-year-old actress had been shooting scenes for the upcoming film “Mammoth,” said Martin Stromberg, a spokesman for film production company Memfis Film.

The actor was considered well-adjusted and not a substance abuser, and the news was a shock to those who know him. “Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life,” said Ang Lee, who directed Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain.”

“He touched so many lives on so many levels during his short life, but few had the pleasure of truly knowing him,” said his father, standing by his crying mother before news crews in Australia. “He was a down-to-earth, generous, life-loving and unselfish individual who was extremely inspirational.” His father added before breaking down himself, “Please respect my family’s great grief as we come to terms with …” The final words trailed off.


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