How Did Anna Nicole Smith Die?, Drug overdose
Anna Nicole Smith, Cause of death
On February 8, 2007, Smith was found dead in room 607 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Tasma Brighthaupt, a friend of Smith who was a trained emergency nurse, performed CPR for 15 minutes until her husband, Maurice “Big Moe” Brighthaupt, Smith’s friend and bodyguard, took over CPR. He had driven back to the hotel after being notified by his wife of Smith’s condition. According to Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger, at 1:38 p.m. (18:38 UTC) Maurice Brighthaupt, who was also a trained paramedic, called the hotel front desk from her sixth-floor room. The front desk in turn called security, who then called 911. At 1:45 p.m. the bodyguard administered CPR until paramedics arrived and Smith was rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital at 2:10 p.m. and pronounced dead on arrival at 2:49 p.m.
A phone call was released to the public on February 13, 2007, involving Seminole police and the local 911 operators, saying:
We need assistance to Room 607 at the Hard Rock. It’s in reference to a white female. She’s not breathing and not responsive… actually, it’s Anna Nicole Smith.
After a seven-week investigation led by Broward County Medical Examiner and Forensic Pathologist Dr. Joshua Perper in combination with the Seminole police and several independent forensic pathologists and toxicologists, Dr. Perper announced that Smith died of “combined drug intoxication” with the sleeping medication chloral hydrate as the “major component.” No illegal drugs were found in her system. The official report states that her death was not considered to be due to homicide, suicide, or natural causes. The full investigative report has been made public and can be found online. Additionally, an official copy of the autopsy report was publicly released on March 26, 2007, and can be found online.
Ultimately her death was ruled a drug overdose of the sedative chloral hydrate that became increasingly lethal when combined with other prescription drugs in her system, specifically four benzodiazepines: Klonopin (Clonazepam), Ativan (Lorazepam), Serax (Oxazepam), and Valium (Diazepam). Furthermore, she had taken Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and Topamax (Topiramate), an anticonvulsant AMPA/Kainate antagonist, which likely contributed to the sedative effect of chloral hydrate and the benzodiazepines. Despite rumors of methadone use due to its involvement in Smith’s son’s death, Dr. Perper found only methadone in her bile, indicating that it could only have been ingested 2-3 days prior to her death and was not a contributing factor. The autopsy report indicates that abscesses on her buttocks (presumably from prior injections of vitamin B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin, as well as human growth hormone), and viral enteritis were contributory causes of death. Tests for influenza A and B were negative.
It was reported that 8 of the 11 drugs in Smith’s system, including the chloral hydrate, were prescribed to Howard K. Stern, not Smith. Additionally, two of the prescriptions were written for Alex Katz and one was written for Smith’s friend and psychiatrist, Dr. Khristine Elaine Eroshevich. Dr. Perper acknowledged that all 11 prescriptions were written by Dr. Eroshevich herself.
Before Smith’s body was buried, it began decomposing at a faster-than-normal pace. Possible factors in her more rapid decomposition were the drugs found in her body in the autopsy, the fact that the legal battles delayed her embalming until over a week after her death, and the nearly month-long wait for her burial in the warm Bahama weather. This resulted in the family having a closed-casket funeral.
Smith’s will, drawn up in April 2001, named her son Daniel as the sole beneficiary of her estate, specifically excluded other children, and named Howard K. Stern as the executor. It indicated personal property valued at $10,000 and real property valued at $1.8 million (with a $1.1 million mortgage) at the time of death. A petition to probate Smith’s will was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The petition to probate lists Larry Birkhead as a party with interest to Anna’s estate. A six-foot-long black granite monument was installed at Smith’s grave in the Bahamas, in February 2009.