Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop" died on June 25, 2009 at age 50. His death was sudden and unexpected, leaving many grieving fans wondering what happened. How did he die?
"HE'S NOT RESPONDING"
An unidentified man called 911 from Jackson's California mansion at 12:21 p.m. He reported that Jackson was unconscious and not breathing. In excerpts from the call, the man said that Jackson's personal doctor was the only other person present and was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the unconscious Jackson without results. "He's pumping, he's pumping his chest but he's not responding to anything, sir, please," the caller said. The caller is still unidentified.
Jackson was rushed to the hospital by paramedics shortly after the call. He was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm.
An autopsy was done the very next day. The doctors, however, said they couldn't immediately establish a cause of death. Los Angeles County Coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey reported that, "the cause of death has been deferred; the medical examiner has ordered additional testing such as toxicology and other studies." Toxicology tests would show if Jackson was taking drugs when he died. This means that it could take 4-6 more weeks until there is an official cause of death. In the meantime, speculation is rising.
After the autopsy, foul play and external trauma were ruled out. That leaves behind a theory that it was medication that caused Jackson to suffer a heart attack.
A heart attack is a blocking of the arteries that deprives the heart of adequate blood and can cause cardiac arrest. However, cardiac arrest can also be caused by factors other than a heart attack, including medications. Jackson's brother Jermaine said it was believed that Jackson went into cardiac arrest due to an interruption of the normal heartbeat.
It has been reported that Jackson's personal doctor injected Jackson with Demerol about half an hour before he went into cardiac arrest. Demerol is a strong narcotic painkiller and carries a long list of warnings to users. The government warns that mixing it with certain other drugs can lead to reactions including slowed or stopped breathing, shock and cardiac arrest. Jackson's death may have been caused by an overdose of the drug.
It is possible that Jackson was "heavily addicted" to the painkiller Oxycontin and was injected daily with that medication, along with Demerol. Brian Oxman, Jackson's family spokesman and lawyer, told reporters that he had been concerned about the prescription drugs Jackson took for pain he had. He commented to reporters: "I said one day, we're going to have this experience, and when Anna Nicole Smith passed away, I said we cannot have this kind of thing with Michael Jackson. I do not want to point fingers at anyone because I want to hear what the toxicology report says and the coroner says. But the plain fact of the matter is that Michael Jackson had prescription drugs at his disposal at all times."
The Associated Press reported that in 2007 Jackson settled a lawsuit filed by a Beverly Hills pharmacy that claimed he owed more than $100,000 for prescription drugs over a two-year period.
Signs of Ill-Health
Back in 2005, when Jackson was on trial for child molestation charges, he appeared to be in bad health. His trial was interrupted several times by hospital visits. He even once appeared late to court dressed in his pajamas after an emergency room visit. Also during the trial, the prosecution confiscated several items from his home, including syringes, Demerol and other prescription drugs.
Jackson himself admitted that he first got hooked on pain medication when filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984 where special effects exploded and burned his scalp. In 1993, in a recorded statement, he said that the child molestation allegations against him contributed to his continuing drug use. "I became increasingly more dependent to the painkillers to get me through the days of the tour," he said. "My friends and doctors advised me to seek professional guidance immediately in order to eliminate what has become an addiction."
Jackson was about to launch a huge international tour in the upcoming months and has begun rehearsing. For insurance purposes, promoters of the tour required that Jackson undergo a health physical. In February or March, Jackson passed a 4 ½-hour physical examination with independent doctors and was believed to be in good health.