The wife and daughter of rocker Tom Petty said today that they hope revelations that he died of a drug overdose will spark further discussion on the country’s opioid crisis.
Petty’s death in October at age 66 shocked the world, as he had just completed a major tour, including prominent dates at the Hollywood Bowl. His death was originally attributed to cardiac arrest. But today the Los Angeles Coroner’s office said that their final analysis showed Petty succumbed to an accidental drug overdose from taking a variety of medications, including using fentanyl patches. It was revealed he suffered from a broken hip and knee problems, in addition to emphysema.
Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioid drugs, used as an anesthetic for surgery and post-surgical relief. It is said to be stronger than heroin and morphine. It was also responsible for the death of rocker Prince, who overdosed on fentanyl pills.
“We hope in some way this report can save lives,” said a statement posted to the Tom Petty website from Dana Petty and Adria Petty. “Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”
Tom Petty was informed on the day he died that what was originally a fractured hip had graduated to a full-on break, according to the family statement. “It is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over-use of medication.” The family noted that Petty toured 53 dates with a fractured hip. “Despite his painful injury, he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans,” the family said.
The family seemed to indicate they were braced for today’s news, noting they knew he was using the fentanyl patches and other pain medications. “We feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident.”
The statement concluded with a request for privacy for “the entire Heartbreaker family during this difficult time.”