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Medical examiner cites drugs as a cause of Irons’ death

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / Karen Wilson
    Andy Irons (Kauai

A Texas medical examiner determined that “acute mixed drug ingestion” contributed to the death of three-time world surfing champion Andy Irons of Kauai, according to the family’s summary of the autopsy report.

Irons, 32, died in a Dallas hotel room on Nov. 2. The family did not release the actual report today and instead quoted Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a forensic pathologist from San Antonio, Texas, whom they asked to “review and explain” the report. 

Tarrant County Medical Examiner officials could not be reached for comment this evening and previously said the report will not be released until later this month.

Di Maio states that the cause of death was “sudden cardiac arrest” and he disputes the medical examiner’s conclusion that drugs were a ”second cause” of Irons’ death.

However, the family’s statement acknowledged that Irons did use both prescription and recreational drugs.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner report listed a combination of drugs that included methadone, Xanax, a trace amount of methamphetamine, and a byproduct of cocaine, the family’s statement says.

“Andy was prescribed Xanax and Zolpidem (Ambien) to treat anxiety and occasional insomnia – a result of a bipolar disorder diagnosed by his family doctor at age 18. This is when Andy first began experiencing episodes of manic highs and depressive lows,” the statement says. “The family believes Andy was in some denial about the severity of his chemical imbalance and tended to blame his mood swings on himself and his own weaknesses, choosing to self-medicate with recreational drugs. Members of his family, close friends, and an industry sponsor intervened over the years to help Andy get clean, but the effort to find balance in his life was certainly complicated by his chemical makeup.”

Irons was found in a Dallas-area hotel room where the police discovered prescription bottles for Alprazolam, used for anxiety, and Zolpidem, a sleeping aid.

On the day of his death, a Tarrant County medical examiner’s official told the Star-Advertiser that tablets suspected to be methadone, commonly used to treat opiate addiction, were found in containers for other prescription medicines.

When Irons death was first reported, family members said they believed he was suffering from dengue fever. They said today that dengue fever was ruled out but that he did suffer from flu-like symptoms in Puerto Rico which forced him to withdraw from a surfing tournament just prior to his death.


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