An autopsy has shown that actress Natasha Richardson died of a head injury which she sustained after falling down on a ski slope during a ski lesson at the Mont Tremblant resort near Montreal, Canada. The precise cause of death was epidural hematoma. A spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office told the Associated Press that Natasha Richardson was not wearing a helmet and that her death has been ruled an accident.
According to WebMD, “Epidural hematoma (EDH) is a traumatic accumulation of blood between the inner table of the skull and the stripped-off dural membrane. The inciting event often is a focused blow to the head, such as that produced by a hammer or baseball bat.”
WebMD also notes that, in most cases of epidural hematoma, the prognosis is usually very good if treated aggressively. Sadly, this was not the case with regard to Natasha Richardson.
Natasha Richardson, who was 45, was an award-winning British actress whose mother is the esteemed actress Vanessa Redgrave, and whose father was the late director and producer Tony Richardson.
In 1998, Natasha won a Tony for her role as as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.” She was married to Irish actor Liam Neeson and was the mother of two boys – Michael and Daniel.
When first injured, it appeared as though she was OK, but a short time later she fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. Her husband, Liam Neeson, who was filming a movie in Toronto, rushed to be by her side.
Natasha Richardson now joins the list of famous people who have died as a result of skiing-related accidents. Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy (son of the late senator Robert F. Kennedy) where both killed in the late ’90s in skiing accidents.
Natasha Richardson’s death is an unspeakable tragedy. Her death has drawn an outpouring of sadness and sympathy from her fellow actors and others who had the good fortune to work with her.
One has to wonder whether Natasha Richardson’s life could have been spared had she been wearing a helmet. Perhaps it would have prevented the epidural hematoma.
Head injuries among motorcyclists who choose to not wear a helmet are quite common – and frequently tragic.
I had a teacher in high school who was killed in a motorcycle accident. He had just pulled out of his driveway when he was hit by a car; he fell to the grown and slammed his head on the street. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and died of his head injuries. He left behind a wife who had just become pregnant.
Autopsy: Natasha Richardson Died From Hitting Head, Hillel Italie, The Associated Press, March 19, 2009
Epidural Hematoma, emedicine from WebMD