Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died from a mixture of the opioids fentanyl and oxycodone combined with alcohol, causing him to choke, according to a toxicology report released today by the Tarrant County, Texas medical examiner’s office.
The 27-year-old pitcher was found dead in his Texas hotel room on July 1. The coroner’s report said his cause of death was a mixture of “alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric contents.” That means he choked on his own vomit from the combination while under the influence. The death was ruled accidental.
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The coroner’s report partially vindicates an earlier report from the Santa Monica Observer, which said in a column that Skaggs may have died from opioid abuse. He was found fully clothed in his hotel room and there were no signs of trauma. The Observer report was taken down after the Angels and police complained about its accuracy, and the publisher said he received threats related to the column.
The investigation into Skaggs’s death was conducted by the Southlake, Texas, police.
A statement from Skaggs’s family on Friday seemed to blame an Angels employee for a role in Skaggs’s death.
“We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol. That is completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League Baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much.
“We are grateful for the work of the detectives in the Southlake Police Department and their ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Tyler’s death. We were shocked to learn that it may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels. We will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them. To that end, we have hired attorney Rusty Hardin to assist us.”
Major League Baseball also claimed it would look into how Skaggs obtained the drugs that led to his death.
“We were unaware of this allegation and will investigate,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said to the Los Angeles Times.
The coroner’s report indicated 3.8 nanograms per milliliter of fentanyl in Skaggs’ system.
The L.A. Angels also issued a statement, but did not reference any employee role.
“Tyler was and always will be a beloved member of the Angels Family and we are deeply saddened to learn what caused this tragic death,” the Angels said. “Angels Baseball has provided our full cooperation and assistance to the Southlake Police as they conduct their investigation.”