Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died of accidental overdose of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol, coroner says

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Saturday, August 31, 2019
Coroner: Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died of overdose
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died while under the influence of drugs and alcohol and fatally choked on his own vomit, according to a medical examiner in Texas.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died while under the influence of drugs and alcohol and fatally choked on his own vomit, according to an autopsy performed by a medical examiner in Texas.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said in a report released Friday that Skaggs had the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system along with alcohol.

The official cause of death was listed as "Mixed ethanol, fentanyl and ocycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric contents."

That in essence means Skaggs choked to death on his own vomit while under the influence of alcohol and those two drugs.

"There are no external signs of notable trauma or foul play," the report also noted.

The 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1 before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed.

Skaggs' family released a statement after the contents of the autopsy report were made public:

"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."

The family also indicated that they believe an employee of the Angels was involved in some way with his death, possibly by supplying him with the drugs. They have hired an attorney to help investigate his death.

"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 Texas attorney Rusty Hardin to assist us."

The Angels organization issued a statement on Twitter:

"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 team wrote.

"Angels Baseball has provided our full cooperation and assistance to the Southlake Police as they conduct their investigation."

The team's general manager, Billy Eppler, later spoke at a press conference, saying the organization could not comment on the facts surrounding Skaggs' death until police in Texas conclude their investigation. He said the team is fully cooperating with that investigation.

"Everyone's searching for facts," Eppler said. "Everyone with the organization wants facts."

"We miss Tyler every day," Eppler added. "We miss him in our lives. We pray for him and we pray for his family every day."

Skaggs was born in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles and went to high school in Santa Monica. Though his high school was just across town from Dodger Stadium, he grew up rooting for the Angels.

Skaggs was drafted by the Angels in 2009 out of high school but was then traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks before making his Major League Baseball debut. He returned to the Angels in a trade in 2013.

Skaggs, who would have turned 28 on July 13, had been a regular in the Angels' starting rotation since late 2016, when he returned from Tommy John surgery.

He struggled with injuries repeatedly over the previous three seasons but persevered to become a valuable starter in Los Angeles' injury-plagued rotation.

The left-hander had just pitched on the Saturday before his death, allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 4-0 loss to Oakland.

Skaggs started a career-high 24 games last season, going 8-10 with a 4.02 ERA. He missed playing time in April this season with a sprained ankle but came back strong.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.