OFFICIAL REPORT IS IN: Heath Ledger Died of Accidental Overdose of Legal Drugs

heath-ledger-4.jpgOxys, Vicodin, Valium, Xanax and two sleep aids make for lethal cocktail  By Jeffrey Jolson for HOLLYWOOD TODAY

HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS) February 7, 2008— Heath Ledger had a lethal combination of prescription drugs in his system according to the toxicology report delivered today, including strong painkillers as well as sleep and anxiety pills. “We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications,” said the much-anticipated report from the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office. It puts an end to tabloid speculation that Ledger was using illegal drugs at the time, though is only a little less disturbing.

Ledger, 28, had ingested the oft-abused opiate painkillers oxycodone, commonly called Oxycontin or Oxys on the street, as well as hydrocodone, found in Vicodin and similar meds. Also found in his body were two tranquilizers, Valium and Xanax; and two sleep aids: Restoril and what could be Unisom. The death was ruled an accident, though it is another Hollywood cautionary tale about mixing easy-to-obtain prescription drugs. He joins a list that includes Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe and runs to Anna Nicole Smith and several others last year alone.

Heath’s father, Kim Ledger, put out a statement thanking everyone for their support and acknowledging the medical report. “While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy,” the elder Ledger said. “Today’s results put an end to speculation, but our son’s beautiful spirit and enduring memory will forever remain in our hearts.”

Heath frequently complained of insomnia, even in press interviews, and the stress of his current shooting schedule and recently completed but intense work as the maniacal Joker on the Batman franchise reboot “The Dark Knight.”

The Oscar-nominated actor (“Brokeback Mountain”) was found in his Soho apartment in New York City on January 22 with pills close to his body and in nearby cabinets. Other film credits included “The Patriot” in 2000, “Monster’s Ball” in 2001 and “I’m Not There,” for which fellow Aussie actor Cate Blanchett received an Oscar nomination this year.

“Heath’s accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage,” said Kim Ledger.

Meanwhile, Heath’s two-year-old daughter and former fiancée Michelle Williams has flown into Australia ahead of the actor’s funeral Saturday in the western city of Perth. Dressed in black, Williams was carrying the couple’s two-year-old daughter Matilda as she arrived in Perth on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles.

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

Kim Ledger asked the family be left alone to grieve and besides the references to the prescription overdoes, his statement read “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.

“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.

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