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Whitney Houston scalded by hot bathtub water, coroner finds

Whitney Houston

The coroner’s investigation into the death of Whitney Houston came to a close Wednesday with a final autopsy report that described the singer submerged face-down in hot water in the bathtub of her Beverly Hills hotel suite with a unidentified white powdery residue left in a spoon on the bathroom counter.

The report released Wednesday confirmed that the 48-year-old singer drowned in a bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors. It concluded that Houston’s death was accidental.

AutopsyA personal assistant found her dead in the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the report said. The water was described as “extremely hot,” and the singer had scalding burns when she was examined.Houston was last seen alive by her personal assistant Feb. 11 between 2:35 p.m. and 3 p.m., the report stated.

The singer had complained of having a lingering sore throat in the days leading up to her death. Before the assistant left, she told Houston to “take a bath to start getting ready for tonight,” referring to a pre-Grammy party thrown by her mentor producer Clive Davis.

The personal assistant then left to pick up items at Neiman Marcus and returned to the locked hotel room at 3:36 p.m. When she went into the bathroom, she found Houston face-down and unresponsive in the tub, the report stated.

She called out to a bodyguard, the report stated, and they pulled Houston out of the bathtub. The assistant then ran to call the front desk and told them to call 911.

On a counter in the bathroom, investigators found an ashtray filled with cigarette butts and a “small spoon with a white crystal-like substance in it, and a rolled-up piece of white paper.”

They also found prescription drug bottles on the counter and a small, plastic bag that had been ripped open. In a drawer, they found a portable mirror with more remnants of a white powdery substance. Coroner’s officials said they did not test the powder, saying that was a job for police. The Beverly Hills Police Department did not release any information about the substance on Wednesday.

Houston had battled drug addiction for years, and the report found that Houston had a perforation in her nose typical of habitual cocaine users.

Toxicology test results showed that she had cocaine in her system at the time of death. The coroner's office also found traces of several other drugs — including marijuana, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril as well as Benadryl — in her system.

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-- Andrew Blankstein and Abby Sewell

Photo: Whitney Houston and Dionne Warwick sing "That's What Friends Are For" at the 2011 Clive Davis pre-Grammy gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times
 
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