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Drowning killed Houston

Special Photo
In response to the sudden death of legendary singer and actress, Whitney Houston, Lemon Funeral Home will give the community a chance to share their sentiments with her family.

Special Photo In response to the sudden death of legendary singer and actress, Whitney Houston, Lemon Funeral Home will give the community a chance to share their sentiments with her family.

Drugs took many things from Whitney Houston — her pristine voice, clean image and her career — and coroner's officials revealed Thursday that cocaine also played a role in the Grammy winner's death in the bathtub of a luxury hotel nearly six weeks ago.

Houston drowned accidentally at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 11, and autopsy results revealed heart disease and her recent and chronic cocaine use were contributing factors.

The results ended weeks of speculation about what killed the singer-actress at age 48 on the eve of the Grammy Awards and a planned comeback. Instead, Houston now joins the long list of entertainers who have died early with drugs at least partly to blame.

Coroner's officials did not reveal how much cocaine was found in Houston's system, but said there were signs of recent and chronic use. It was unclear whether she suffered a heart attack before drowning, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said.

"We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure," Patricia Houston, the singer's sister-in-law and manager, said in a statement.

Houston's death the night before the Grammys altered the awards ceremony and brought back immediate memories of the singer in her better days, belting out hits and starring in the feature films such as "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale." Years later, Houston's drug use had robbed her of her ability to hit high notes and left her once clean image tarnished.

"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 television interview with then-husband Bobby Brown by her side.

In 2009, after she had divorced Brown, she told Oprah Winfrey that her cocaine and marijuana use took over her life. Both drugs were found in Houston's system after she died, though the marijuana and several other prescription drugs played no role in her death, coroner's officials said.