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Medical examiner rules Skaggs died from accidental overdose of drugs, alcohol

Tyler Skaggs

(Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

The toxicology report from a medical examiner in Texas has revealed Los Angeles Angles pitcher Tyler Skaggs died from what was described as an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol, a conclusion that likely brings only more pain to his grieving family and friends.

According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, Skaggs had the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone and alcohol in his system at the time of his death.

The autopsy provided lists the cause of death as a “mixed ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric contents.”

Unfortunately, that means Skaggs essentially chocked on his own vomit. He was found on his bed fully clothed. The medical examiner immediately concluded there was no sign of trauma.

The report goes on to reveal there were 38 nanograms per milliliter of oxycodone, an opioid medication prescribed to treat severe pain, and 3.8 nanograms per milliliter of fentanyl, a painkiller much stronger than oxycodone.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, Fentanyl is an opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. When taken in uncontrolled concentrations by unsuspecting users, or by users whose opioid tolerance has not been heightened by long-term use, the drug is more likely even than prescription opioids to suppress respiration and cause death.

It also revealed a blood-alcohol level of 0.122%. An 0.08% limit is considered legally impaired.

It was July 1 when Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area while the Angels were in town to the play the Texas Rangers. The team had checked into the hotel the night before.

His death caused a wide outpouring of tributes, his fans lining the grounds of Anaheim Stadium with flowers and candles, his teammates all wearing his No. 45 when once they returned home to play.

“We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol,” the family said in a statement. “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.”

You’ll recall Hardin was the attorney who represented Roger Clemens during his perjury trial in 2012. Hardin told the Times it was too early to speculate about legal action.

“I think the thing to keep in mind is they’re just still so devastated, both the wife and the family, about this young man’s death, and they just want to know what happened and how it happened,” said Hardin. “We’re going to want to know how it came about that those drugs were ingested and whether or not others are responsible for what happened.”

Major League Baseball will assign its investigative unit to look into the possibility that it was an Angels employee who might have supplied Skaggs with the medication

“We were unaware of this allegation and will investigate,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said.