L.A. Coroner: Cocaine a factor in Whitney Houston's death

Cocaine was a "contributing factor" in Whitney Houston's drowning death in February, but was only one of a number of factors leading to the singer's demise, according to her final autopsy report.

Cocaine was a "contributing factor" in Whitney Houston's drowning death in February, but was only one of a number of factors leading to the singer's demise, according to her final autopsy report.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's office released the final version of its report Wednesday (4/5), ruling the death accidental and confirming that cocaine and heart disease played a part in her Feb. 11 drowning in Beverly Hills.

The autopsy also found a perforation in Houston's nose typical of habitual cocaine users. Investigators on the scene found an assortment of substances both legal and illicit, including open champagne bottles, prescription pill containers, along with a spoon having a "crystal like substance" on it and a "white powdery substance" in a drawer.

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Whitney Houston

According to the report, which provides the most detailed account yet of the last hours of Houston's life, an assistant found the music icon face down in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton. The report indicates that she had been dead for at least an hour, floating in water that was so hot it scalded parts of her body. The bathroom was flooded and the carpet soaked with water, according to the report.

Houston, who died just hours before she was scheduled to perform at music industry executive Clive Davis' traditional pre-Grammy Awards party, was wearing a brown wig when she was found. The report, which can be read in full here, described the 48-year-old Houston as "well built, muscular and fairly well nourished."

According to the report, attempts were made to revive Houston with a defibrillator.

The coroner's statement will likely close the book on Houston's shortened life, but some commenters in the media found inconsistencies in the report troubling. On his cable show "Dr. Drew on HLN," Dr. Drew Pinsky poked at the claim that the water in the tub was reported to be 93 degrees when investigators measured it six hours after the performer's death.

"How is that even possible? Is it like a self-heating bathtub?" he asked, adding, "I don't think they should close [the case] as this still leaves open the possibility of foul play."

He also found a problem with the report's claim that heart disease was contributing factor, according to MSNBC.

"This theory that she had some sort of heart problem, I take issue with that," said Pinsky. "She had minimal heart disease. Sixty percent coronary stenosis is something that no doctor would do anything with, because it is harmless."

But a toxicologist interviewed by the Los Angeles Times said he believed the combination of cocaine and possibly slipping in the bathtub's water could have proven fatal, although he also did not believe that the amount of cocaine she had consumed could have caused her death by itself.

"The combination was toxic for her," Dr. Nachman Brautbar a professor emeritus at USC, told the newspaper, explaining that the cocaine combined with the other drugs she had taken had possibly caused her to briefly lose consciousness and drown.

Beverly Hills police officials have still not released their findings, which presumably will include the exact nature of the mystery substances found in the room.

 

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