Tom Petty's autopsy results revealed
In October 2017, American rock music legend Tom Petty died at the age of 66. With his band, The Heartbreakers, he created countless catchy hits, like Free Fallin, I Won't Back Down, Refugee, American Girl and Last Dance With Mary Jane. (The hooks to each one probably play in your head when you read the titles.) His career spanned four decades, and even included forming a supergroup with Bob Dylan and George Harrison. The Hall of Fame musician will be sorely missed.
Reportedly, Tom Petty was sitting on the couch with his wife, watching TV, and fell asleep. She went to the kitchen for a moment, and when she came back, he wasn't breathing. The paramedics came, performed CPR and felt a pulse. They rushed him to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital, where he experienced cardiac arrest, and they put him on life support. After discovering his brain had no activity, his family took him off life support. On Petty's official death certificate, his cause of death was listed as "deferred." We never knew what caused him to go into cardiac arrest until now.
Today Tom Petty's autopsy results were finally released, and the cause of death is sadly common to many musicians and celebrities: an accidental drug overdose after taking a variety of medications. According to The L.A. County Coroner, his official cause of death is "multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity."
The report states that the singer was on several pain meds, including Fentanyl patches, Xanax, oxycodone (Oxycontin), Restoril (a sleep aid) and Celexa (which treats depression). In a statement, Tom Petty's family said doctors prescribed the drugs to treat a number of medical problems, including emphysema, knee problems, coronary artery atherosclerosis and a fractured hip.
According to his family, the real cause of death was the fractured hip. "Despite this painful injury, he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractured hip and, as he did, it worsened to a more serious injury," wrote Tom Petty's wife and his daughter in the statement. "On the day he died, he was informed his hip had graduated to a full-on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his overuse of medication."
If Fentanyl sounds familiar to you, that's because it's been linked to other musicians' deaths, like fellow American rock music legend Prince, and up-and-coming rapper 21-year-old rapper Lil Peep. When you're just using one substance - like alcohol - it's easy to get a handle for your own tolerance. But when you're taking multiple drugs - whether they're recreational or prescription - it's not so easy to know what type of dosage could turn fatal. Hopefully these tragic deaths will raise awareness of the dangers of mixing meds, so we don't lose more music legends before their time.