Heart Attack, Drug Use Caused Death of Surfer Andy Irons

By Kirwan Gray 06/10/11

Toxicology reports indicate that methadone, cocaine, and other drugs were discovered in the champion surfer’s body at autopsy.

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Diagnosed as bipolar at age 18.
Photo via thejerseychaser

Three-time world surfing champion Andy Irons of Hawaii died of a heart attack, with a secondary cause of death list as “acute mixed drug ingestion,” according to a just-released coroner’s report. Irons, who was 32 at the time of his death in November, had been the subject of rumor and speculation about his drug habits over the years. In 2008, Irons suddenly quit the world surfing tour after consecutive championships from 2002 through 2004, amid behavior described by associates as “erratic.” In the hotel room where he died, police found bottles of Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology reports indicate that methadone, cocaine, and methamphetamine were discovered in his body at autopsy. His parents said Andy had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 18 by a family doctor.

The Irons family hired its own medical examiner to go over the findings. In a  statement on the matter published in Tracks, a surfing magazine, the family claims that an independent forensic expert they consulted had disagreed over the inclusion of drugs in the final autopsy report. The family statement says that their son was taking methadone and Xanax “at therapeutic levels.” They also said the toxicologist had confirmed that cocaine metabolites found in the body were “consistent with the use of cocaine at about 30 hours prior to his death.” The statement concludes: “The family believes Andy was in some denial about the severity of his chemical imbalance and tended to blame his mood swings on himself and his own weaknesses, choosing to self-medicate with recreational drugs. Members of his family, close friends, and an industry sponsor intervened over the years to help Andy get clean, but the effort to find balance in his life was certainly complicated by his chemical makeup.”

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