It’s official: We now know why Dolores O’Riordan died. It was “drowning due to intoxication.”

The death of Cranberries’ singer Dolores O’Riordan on January 15 was a shock. What could have killed a seemingly healthy 46-year-old woman–reportedly in very good spirits–who had been looking forward to the next day’s work in the studio with American metal band Bad Wolves? What happened in that London Hilton Hotel in Park Lane?

The last person to see Dolores alive was room service when an order was delivered around midnight. The monitored mini-bar was last accessed at 2:10 am. She phoned her mother at 3 am. The next person to see her was a member of housekeeping at 9 that morning.

For the longest time, there were whispers that this was another fentanyl or other opioid tragedy. That, however, seems not to be the case.

Her body was found face up in the bathtub of her suite on the morning of Monday, January 15. She had been taking a bath–in a long-sleeved vest and some pyjama bottoms–when she passed out, slipped below the waterline and drowned. She was declared dead at 9:16 am.

A police officer testified: “I saw Mrs O’Riordan submerged in the bath with her nose and mouth fully under the water.”

After months of no answers–a toxicology report was promised in April, but nothing materialized–we finally have a cause of death on the day of what would have been her 47th birthday: “drowning due to alcohol intoxication.” The inquest found the following:

  • She had been drinking heavily. Her blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit. (330 mg per 100 mls; the legal limit is 80 mg)
  • There were five empty miniature alcohol bottles in her room along with a bottle of Champagne.
  • She’s been taking prescription drugs. The drugs are not specified, although she was known have been prescribed lorazepam. The inquest did find that there was no overdose. The amount of drugs in her bloodstream were found to be at “therapeutic levels.”
  • We learned that in September 2017, Dolores composed a suicide note while on lorazepam. A doctor’s assessment filed December 26 said she was “feeling better.”
  • There was no evidence of self-harm (i.e. this wasn’t a suicide) so her death has been ruled a “tragic accident.”

The Cranberries released this statement:

Further coverage:

BBC

The Telegraph

Irish Sun

The Guardian

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “It’s official: We now know why Dolores O’Riordan died. It was “drowning due to intoxication.”

  • September 6, 2018 at 10:24 am
    Permalink

    Hmmm taking a bath, fully dressed? REALLY? This doesn’t smell fishy??

    Reply

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