Coroner: Golfer's Death Was Suicide
(CBS/ AP) The Clark County coroner’s office ruled Tuesday that 25-year-old professional golfer Erica Blasberg’s death was a suicide.
Blasberg died May 9 at her home in Henderson, about 15 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip. She was found with a plastic bag secured over her head.
The coroner’s office said Blasberg died of suicide due to asphyxia, coupled with the presence of toxic levels of prescription medication in her system, including prescription headache, cough, pain and anti-anxiety medications.
The drugs in Blasberg’s system included butalbital, temazepam, alprazolam, codeine, hydrocodone, and tramadol, according to the coroner, but Nevada law doesn’t permit the release of details on the amounts of medication.
“While asphyxia was the primary cause of death, the presence of prescription drugs in Ms. Blasberg’s system was a significant factor,” Coroner Michael Murphy said.
The Henderson Police Department also announced it concluded an extensive investigation Tuesday and determined there was no foul play.
Still, a misdemeanor obstruction of justice arrest warrant was issued for Dr. Thomas Hess for allegedly removing items from the death scene before police arrived at the home.
Police have said a 911 call from Hess summoning police came from the house, and that Blasberg was alone when officers arrived. Blasberg’s agent said her bags were packed for a tournament in Mobile, Ala., when she was found.
The death investigation was complicated, police said, because Hess admitted to altering the scene – including the removal of a note indicating Blasberg took her own life – and he stopped cooperating with detectives. Hess hid the note and prescription medications in his vehicle.
Calls from The Associated Press to Blasberg’s father, Mel Blasberg, her agent Chase Callahan and Hess’ lawyer Charles Kelly were not immediately returned.
Blasberg grew up in Southern California, and was in her sixth season on the LPGA Tour when she died. Her best year on the tour was 2008, when she earned more than $113,000.
Blasberg played one event this season, tying for 44th in the April 29-May 2 Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico.
Mel Blasberg told CBS’ “The Early Show” last month that if his daughter had personal demons she was dealing with, he was partly responsible for not seeing the signs of possible trouble. With the pressures of being a professional athlete, and the personal pressure do her best, Erica had mentioned to her father that she wasn’t completely happy, he said.
“There were times that I’m sure she didn’t want to be a professional golfer,” said Blasberg. “She was disappointed. She said things to me, you know, from time-to-time, that raised little flags. She had mentioned on occasion that she didn’t think she had any friends, which is not the case at all. And things like that.”
Blasberg said his daughter’s death left him feeling unsettled. “What didn’t I see?” he asked. “I never took her for granted.”
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