Heath Ledger's death was due to an accidental mixture of prescription drugs

By Karen Mizoguchi
Updated July 28, 2016 11:50 AM
Advertisement
Sarah Rhodes/Newspix/Getty

Heath Ledger‘s father Kim has revealed new details about his son’s death.

The actor, who posthumously won an Oscar in 2009 for his portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight, was found dead in his New York apartment in January 2008 due to an accidental mixture of prescription drugs. He was 28.

Recently, Kim recalled the conversation his daughter and Heath’s sister Kate had with the star the night before he died.

“The last conversation Kate had with him was this discussion about his medications and she warned him, ‘You can’t mix drugs that you don’t know anything about,’ ” Kim told news.com.au. “He said ‘Katie, Katie, I’ll be fine.’ Well, that’s a cavalier boy’s answer. It just put his whole system to sleep I guess.”

“Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Diazepam, Temazepam, Alprazolam, and Doxylamine. We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications,” New York City’s chief medical examiner had ruled.

Oxycodone is a painkiller, Hydrocodone is also known as Vicodin, Diazepam is commonly called Valium, Temazepam treats anxiety or sleeplessness, Alprazolam is known as Xanax, and Doxylamine is a sedating antihistamine often used as a sleep aid.

“It was a one-off thing. That’s what killed us, because he was warned by his sister the night before: ‘You shouldn’t mix what you’re taking for pneumonia with your Ambien.’ But most of Heath’s problems were self-induced,” Kim said of the “pressure” his son had due to his busy work schedule.

“There is pressure on everybody, especially young people, to perform and to keep going,” he continued, adding, “He was a young guy that traveled all the time for work. Even as a 2-year-old, he hardly ever slept. He was trying to work and travel and do everything in a short space of time.”

In the eight years since Heath’s death, the Ledger family has continued to raise awareness for prescription drug misuse. Kim explained that Heath did not have an addiction to opioids, but that he had made a tragic mistake.

“[He] mixed a couple of drugs together with sleeping tablets and he’s gone forever. That’s something we [himself, Kate and wife Sally] just have to deal with,” he concluded.