Today's Evil Beet Gossip

Autopsy Reveals Natasha Richardson Died from Bleeding in the Brain Resulting from Ski Accident


There had been some rumors circulating that perhaps Natasha Richardson died of a brain aneurysm that just happened to coincide with her ski tumble, but the autopsy report indicates otherwise. They say she died from bleeding in the skull caused by the fall.

The medical examiner ruled her death an accident, and doctors said she might have survived had she received immediate treatment. However, nearly four hours elapsed between her lethal fall at her admission to a hospital.

The Tony-winning actress suffered from an epidural hematoma, which causes bleeding between the skull and the brain’s covering, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office.

Such bleeding is often caused by a skull fracture, and it can quickly produce a blood clot that puts pressure on the brain. That pressure can force the brain downward, pressing on the brain stem that controls breathing and other vital functions.

Patients with such an injury often feel fine immediately after being hurt because symptoms from the bleeding may take time to emerge.

“This is a very treatable condition if you’re aware of what the problem is and the patient is quickly transferred to a hospital,” said Dr. Keith Siller of New York University Langone Medical Center. “But there is very little time to correct this.”

To prevent coma or death, surgeons frequently cut off part of the skull to give the brain room to swell.

“Once you have more swelling, it causes more trauma which causes more swelling,” said Dr. Edward Aulisi, neurosurgery chief at Washington Hospital Center in the nation’s capital. “It’s a vicious cycle because everything’s inside a closed space.” …

A CT scan can detect bleeding, bruising or the beginning of swelling in the brain. The challenge is for patients to know whether to seek one.

“If there’s any question in your mind whatsoever, you get a head CT,” Aulisi advised. “It’s the best 20 seconds you ever spent in your life.”

So obviously this is a horrible and tragic and heart-breaking situation, but if something good can come from this, maybe it’s a lesson. I don’t know exactly what kind of fall Natasha took, but I know I’ve had many a tumble on a ski slope, had a headache, and would never have thought to go to the hospital. But based on the fact that the paramedics were dispatched to the scene, this was maybe a little more serious than one of my falls. However, I can completely understand feeling okay and being like, “No, no, I don’t want to make this some big drama, I’ll be fine.” I don’t think I would have done anything differently in her position.

Not anymore! If the professionals on the scene recommend I go to a hospital to get checked out, I’m always saying yes in the future, drama or not. If anything good can possibly come of such a horrendous tragedy, maybe it’s that the dissemination of this information will save a few lives.

RIP, Natasha.

19 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Helmet up. That’s all I can say.
    You may feel like a dork, but it’s better than having somebody wipe your butt for the rest of your life, or dying.

  • Yeah and it is really easy to get a fractured skull and not know it for days and be slowly bleeding it’s sad but happens quite a lot.

  • But based on the fact that the paramedics were dispatched to the scene, this was maybe a little more serious than one of my falls.

    Sad story, but for some reason this made me laugh. The woman died so I’m guessing it was a LOT more serious than one of your falls.

    • Oops, I didn’t mean for that to come off as insensitive. Everyone on the scene agreed that it LOOKED like a minor fall. I guess what I meant is that it must have LOOKED like a more serious fall than one of mine. It was obviously a MUCH more serious fall than any I’ve had.

      • I don’t think it came off as insensitive. And from the reports, it didn’t seem like a big deal. Perhaps they called paramedics to the scene because they knew they were dealing with a high-name client, and didn’t want any lawsuits. Also, she was doing a lesson, so maybe it’s procol.

  • This story has had me riveted since I first read about it. I kept praying she would be alright. :-( And you are right Beet, it DOES make you wonder about all the falls that occur out on the slopes everyday. I was taking a snowboarding lesson last month and was NOT wearing a helmet. I had a great run at the end of the day and turned to listen to my instructor when I wiped out hard enough to literally pass out. I too denied getting any treatment and was embarrassed more than anything even though I was in a lot of pain. I could see why she would have denied treatment.

    So sad for her family.

  • I already saved quite a lot of people suffering from epidural hematoma, and I must tell you I find really bewildering that in a civilized country sommething like this should happen.
    Of course everyone should wear a helmet
    and of course everyone should be put in a decent hospital asap, where a neurosurgeon can operate on you, or at least someone can conduct a provisory decompressive surgery, gaining time for a neurosurgeon to fix the problem
    I am appalled because I know this happens all the time, only this time someone famous was affected and we are awarw of it
    There are few surgical emergencies, but this is one of them

  • A helmet might not have helped her.
    She could still have had a rotational injury to her brain that would have caused the same thing to happen. In that case having strong neck muscles is what saves you.

    I am waiting for the jerks out there to start posting edited Taken posters.

    • Many things can happen when wearing a helmet
      one can even die, of course, when wearing a helmet
      it happens to motobikers
      but one hardly dies from epidural hematoma with a helmet on
      and that´s what she died from.
      One can also die from this kind of situation after falling and hitting your head on the pavement when windowshopping.
      It’s kind of strange but it’s true.
      But it’s really sad.

  • Thank you finally told me I one thing I’ve been wanting to know. How long it was from injury to treatment? 4 hours!!!! As a medical profession I know that by the time a CT scan was preformed her injury had reached the point of no return.

    The last thing you think about when picking a vacation spot is the distance to quality medical care but was the difference here. The 1st hospital did NOT even have a CT scan thus her transfer to a 2nd hospital in Canada, which only delayed treatment even more. They can spent $250 million to build a resort but not one cent on an adequate medical facility. In trauma we use the term “The Golden Hour” because the longer the delay the less change of survival. Unbelievable..

    A couple years ago I had a roll-over car accident in which I was ejected. Like an idiot I had taken my seat-belt off to get something out of the back seat but before I even turned back around we were rolling over and over. I was the passenger not the driver. It toke 500 plus staples to close my scalp which was hanging off. Within 20 minutes I was in a hospital and in CT scan in 30 minutes. I had no brain injury of any kind. Amazing I took take that impact with only cosmetic damage and she falls on a bunny slope and dies. I guess you can never know so better to be safe than sorry.

    • right on target
      but when there is nothing to lose
      and a patient is clearly showing signs of impending herniation of the uncus
      there should be a brave general surgeon who can perform two burr holes and maybe make the difference between life and death

  • one of my friends died the same way last summer. he was 22 years old and out drinking one night. he was staying at a friends apartment no one really knows what happend but they found him in the morning at the bottom of a flight of stairs barely speaking, everyone just thought he was still wasted but he had hit his head. he was taken to the hospital but died a few days later when they took him off life support, he may have survived if he had been brought to the hosptial as soon has he hit his head. they think he fell down the stairs.

  • it really does make sense to require a helmet. i hope they didn’t go home and chill out, hoping it would pass. how horrible her family must feel if they think they could have rushed her to the hospital instead and saved her life.

  • A CT scan of your head takes a lot longer than 20 seconds and if you’re claustrophobic, it feels like a freakin’ eternity.