Whitney Houston's Death: The Details Behind Her Sudden Passing

Whitney Houston was just 48 years old when she died at a Beverly Hills hotel in February 2012

Whitney Houston accepts the Winner of International - Favorite Artist Award onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Whitney Houston's unmistakable voice and career left a major impact on the music industry, which she exited suddenly and tragically.

The singer, nicknamed "The Voice," was known for a powerful vocal ability that earned her multiple accolades throughout her life and even after her death. However, her drug use and tumultuous personal life behind the limelight became just as well-known as her music.

Houston died on Feb. 11, 2012, the day before the Grammy Awards, sending shockwaves through the music community and around the world. The singer accidentally drowned in a hotel room, leaving behind 18-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown.

Here are all the details of her sudden passing, as well as the legacy she left behind.

How did Whitney Houston die?

Whitney Houston at the Songwriters Hall of Fame 32nd Annual Awards at The Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York City on June 14, 2001
Whitney Houston. Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Houston's death was ruled as an accidental drowning with contributing factors of heart disease and cocaine use, according to the 42-page coroner's report.

The toxicology report found that "cocaine and metabolites" contributed to her passing. Other substances found in her body included marijuana, Xanax (anti-anxiety medication), Benadryl (allergy medication) and Flexeril (muscle relaxer), but they did not contribute to her death.

"There was water found in her lungs that indicated to us that she was alive when she was submerged underwater," Los Angeles County chief coroner Craig Harvey told PEOPLE at the time. "According to our tests, the level of cocaine was not necessarily a lethal level of cocaine. But her death was complicated by chronic cocaine use and heart disease."

Coroner assistant chief Ed Winter shared with PEOPLE two potential scenarios about the circumstances of her death: "She could've passed out first due to the intoxication from the cocaine, or she could've had a heart attack and then drowned. It's probably one of those two scenarios."

When did Whitney Houston die?

Houston died on Feb. 11, 2012. Her official time of death was at 3:55 p.m.

Where did Whitney Houston die?

Balloons and flowers put out for Whitney Houston
Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty

Houston was found unresponsive and submerged in her bathtub inside Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

The singer was seemingly fine when speaking with her mother, Cissy Houston, at 3:15 p.m. Less than 30 minutes later, hotel security was called at 3:43 p.m. when the singer was found unresponsive in the bathtub by her assistant. Police officers arrived in her suite two minutes later, as they were already at the hotel in preparation for Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards party that evening. Officials attempted CPR on Houston before she was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m.

How old was Whitney Houston when she died?

The singer was 48 years old at the time of her passing.

What were Whitney Houston's last words?

Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem during the pregame show at Super Bowl XXV while tens of thousands of football fans wave tiny American flags in an incredible outburst of patriotism during the Persian Gulf War on 01/27/1991
Michael Zagaris/Getty

Houston spoke on the phone with her mother around 3:15 p.m. on February 11, just 40 minutes before she was pronounced dead in her hotel room. The nature of their phone call has not been revealed by Cissy Houston, but she said her daughter seemed to be fine.

Two days before her death on February 9, Houston visited singers Brandy and Monica with Clive Davis during their rehearsals for the music executive's party on February 11. Later that day, Houston made her last public performance singing "Jesus Loves Me" on stage with Kelly Price in Hollywood at a pre-Grammys party.

How did the public react to Whitney Houston's death?

Whitney Houston, woman signs a giant mural with a portrait of her idol displayed at a mall in Manila on February 17, 2012, as part of the mall's tribute to the pop legend

Both the public and lovers of her music worldwide were devastated by her passing. When news broke of the singer's death, it made the front page of newspapers and was widely covered.

Davis, Houston's friend and mentor, still hosted his pre-Grammy party in the Beverly Hilton hotel on the evening of Feb. 11, despite the singer's body remaining inside the building until 12:45 a.m. At the start of the event, he shared a tribute to Houston: "By now you have all learned of the unspeakably tragic news of our beloved Whitney's passing. I don't have to mask my emotion in front of a room full of so many dear friends."

The Grammy Award winner continued, "I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Whitney was so full of life. She was so looking forward to tonight even though she wasn't scheduled to perform. Whitney was a beautiful person and a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence and gave so many memorable performances here over the years. Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on."

In the days after Houston's death, dozens of her friends and colleagues shared tributes to the late singer. "She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth," wrote Mariah Carey on Twitter.

"To me Whitney was THE VOICE. We got to hear a part of God every time she sang. Heart is heavy, spirit grateful for the GIFT of her," said Oprah Winfrey. Other stars that shared messages of support included Tony Bennett, Smokey Robinson, Toni Braxton and more.

The singer's funeral was held on Feb. 19 in Newark, N.J., where she performed as a child in the choir. The services included performances from several notables names, including Alicia Keys, who sang an emotional rendition of "Send Me An Angel," and Stevie Wonder, who told mourners he "had a little crush on Whitney" before singing one of her favorite songs, "Ribbon in the Sky."

What legacy did Whitney Houston leave behind?

Suzie Gibbons/Redferns

Even a decade after her passing, Houston is widely regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time. Her influence on the music industry and overall culture is undeniable — as one of the best-selling musical artists ever, she continues to inspire movies and documentaries, posthumous music releases and charitable work.

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