Tom Petty’s Death Ruled Accidental Overdose, According To Coroner

By Beth Leipholtz 01/22/18

In a statement, the late music icon's family shared their hope that the coroner's report would further the discussion about the opioid crisis.

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Tom Petty

After his sudden death last fall, a Los Angeles coroner has ruled singer-songwriter Tom Petty’s death the result of an accidental overdose.

Petty, 66, died October 2, 2017. After being found unconscious in his home, he was admitted to UCLA’s Santa Monica hospital in full cardiac arrest. 

On Friday, January 19, the Los Angeles Times reported that Petty’s autopsy revealed various drugs in his system including fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl.

"A lot of these are found in prescription drugs," Brian Elias, a coroner's spokesman, told the Los Angeles Times

The autopsy also revealed that the 66-year-old had coronary artery atherosclerosis and emphysema.

Petty’s family released the following statement on the musician's website on Friday, Jan. 19:

"We knew before the report was shared with us that he was prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues, including fentanyl patches, and we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident.

As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.

We continue to mourn with you and marvel at Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers incredible positive impact on music and the world. And we thank you all for your love and support over the last months.”

Petty’s family also added that they found comfort in knowing the singer passed peacefully and after finishing a tour with his band. 

Petty had a history of heroin addiction, for which he had been in treatment and recovery. Though he went to treatment in 2001, Petty did not speak publicly about his battles until 2015, when Petty: The Biography was released.

"You start losing your soul," Petty told biographer Warren Zanes. "You realize one day, 'Shit, I've lost myself. I'm hanging out with people I wouldn't be seen with in a million years, and I have to get out of this.' I wanted to quit. Using heroin went against my grain. I didn't want to be enslaved to anything. So I was always trying to figure out how to do less, and then that wouldn't work. Tried to go cold turkey, and that wouldn't work. It's an ugly f---ing thing. Really ugly. I fear that if I talk about it, people will think, 'Well, I could do it and get off.' But you can't. Very few people do."

Petty’s family’s full statement can be read on Petty’s website

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

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