Police: Houston underwater in bathtub

2012-02-14 11:45
Beverly Hills - Whitney Houston was underwater and apparently unconscious when she was pulled from a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub, and she had prescription drugs in her room, authorities said on Monday.

Two days after her death, Houston's body was taken to a small, Los Angeles-area airport to be flown to her home state of New Jersey, where her family was making arrangements for a funeral at the end of the week.

A post-mortem was done on Sunday, and authorities said there were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston's body.

It could be weeks, however, before the coroner's office completes toxicology tests to establish her cause of death.

Whitney Houston: A Life in Pictures

The 48-year-old singer had struggled for years with cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her behaviour had become erratic.

Houston was found on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel by a member of her staff about 15:30, just hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy Awards gala, police spokesperson Mark Rosen said.

She was pulled from the bathtub by members of her staff, and hotel security was promptly notified, Rosen said. She was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later.

"As of right now, it's not a criminal investigation," Rosen said, refusing to release further details. "We have concluded our portion of the investigation at the hotel."

Prescription meds

Los Angeles coroner's assistant chief Ed Winter said there were bottles of prescription medicine in the room. He would not give details except to say: "There weren't a lot of prescription bottles. You probably have just as many prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet."

The coroner's office released the body to the family early on Monday. Later, a police convoy accompanied two vehicles into a Van Nuys Airport hangar, and a private, twin-engine jet rolled out of the hangar and took off shortly after 15:00 PST (23:00 GMT).

Two people who spoke with Houston's family said the singer would be taken to New Jersey.

The two, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to speak for the family, said Houston's relatives raised the possibility of a wake on Thursday and a funeral on Friday at Newark's Prudential Center, an arena that can seat about 18 000 people.

Houston was born in Newark and raised in nearby East Orange. She began singing as a child at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church, where her mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music programme for many years.

Tributes

The White House said President Barack Obama's thoughts and prayers were with Houston's family, especially her daughter. Press secretary Jay Carney paid tribute to the singer's "immense talent" and called it a tragedy to lose somebody so gifted at such a young age.

Houston's death is a sad rewind of what befell Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse. It took three months for a London coroner to rule that Winehouse drank herself to death last July. A powerful anesthetic was quickly linked to Jackson's June 2009 death. Three months ago, Jackson's doctor was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Houston's death tinged the Grammy ceremonies with sadness. It also probably boosted viewership, which was 50% higher than last year, with nearly 40 million viewers tuning in to the programme on CBS.

A sensation from her first album, Houston was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, turning out such hits as I Wanna Dance With Somebody, How Will I Know, The Greatest Love of All and I Will Always Love You. But as she struggled with drugs, her majestic voice became raspy, and she couldn't hit the high notes.

Mourners left flowers, balloons and candles at the wrought-iron fence around the tall brick Newark church where she got her start. It sits near an abandoned housing project and the train line leading to New York City.

"She was an inspiration to everybody," said Gregory Hanks, an actor who grew up in the neighborhood and who dropped off a bouquet. He saw Houston perform in New Jersey years ago.

"I grew up listening to her as a little boy, and to hear her sing, you knew she was special," he said.

Comments

  • Hermann - 2012-02-14 12:42

    Hello Michael Jackson

      Hermann - 2012-02-14 13:53

      Interesting the thumbs down votes did not catch the crunch - shame, just shows how dumb people can be. Bottom line she was a druggie and why do my fellow Cape Flats druggie victims not get the same sensation, simply because they could not sing so their deaths are tough luck.

      James - 2012-02-14 15:09

      Yes HermannH. I agree. I'm so sick and tired of all these celebs that can't keep their crap together. They have these lives of prosperity yet it all comes to naught and everybody feels sorry for them. Maybe they need to come and spend some time with Aids orphans or some time in a Mumbai slum. Posibly they will then realize how fortunate they really are! Singing brought Houston everything, yet that wasn't enough. How pathetic!

  • SirFGrumpy - 2012-02-14 15:08

    Quote CoreBB.com: How many celebrities and rock stars can you think of who have died from drug and/or alcohol abuse? The average life expectancy is 78.3 years. But did you know the average life expectancy for a rock star is 42 years? Case in point, Superstar Amy Winehouse, 27 years old, died of alcohol poisoning. The singer shot to fame with songs including "Rehab," in which she sums up her view on seeking treatment with the a chorus of "no, no, no." So Whitney Houston lasted 6 more years, she was probably one of the lucky ones.

  • trix.duvenage - 2012-02-14 21:10

    Yip... I suppose she was special but what makes these stars go for drugs? Elvis was a legend he had everything he ever needed and he had three quarters of the world at his feet. WTF did he use drugs for? The planet sits with a drug problem at the moment and when one thinks clearly celebs contributed quite a lot to the addiction of millions today. While the drug lords smile all the way to the bank parents [especially in South Africa] are desperate for assistance of any nature as chilldren are hooked by the thousands basically on a daily basis! While it gets easier by the day to have access to drugs GREAT finacial losses are reported daily as drug addicts sell everthing they can lay their hands om simply because they cannot live without drugs.... And while the authoroties seemingly close their eyes to the problem is is slowly but surely becoming an epidemic here under our noses.....

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