NY medical examiner: Ted Koppel’s son died from overdose of heroin, coke, Valium, alcohol

By Colleen Long, AP
Friday, June 18, 2010

Koppel’s son died from overdose of drugs, alcohol

NEW YORK — The son of former ABC News anchor Ted Koppel, who was found dead in a stranger’s apartment after a day of bar-hopping, overdosed on a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol, the medical examiner’s office said Friday.

Andrew Koppel’s May 31 death was ruled an accident. He died from acute intoxication due to the combined effects of alcohol; heroin; cocaine; diazepam, the generic form of Valium; and Levamisole, a drug used to cut other drugs, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner’s office. Police had said no criminality was suspected.

The 40-year-old Koppel had been out most of May 30 drinking heavily with Russell Wimberly. Wimberly, who initially said they had met for the first time that day, said Friday they had known each other about a month. He would not comment further.

Koppel was eventually taken up to an apartment to sleep it off, said Belinda Caban, who lives in the apartment and said she didn’t know Koppel.

Caban told The Associated Press earlier this month that she and Wimberly spent the next few hours talking, and he went in to check on Koppel and said he was snoring. After six hours, she told Wimberly it was time to go and for him to take Koppel home. She said when they went to the bedroom to rouse Koppel, he wasn’t moving, so they called 911. She said paramedics estimated Koppel had been dead for four hours. Caban didn’t answer a call Friday seeking comment.

Koppel had problems with alcohol in his youth. He was arrested at least twice on DUI charges in Maryland in 1989 and 1991, and in one of the incidents he was in a car accident, according to Maryland court documents. In 1994, while a student at Georgetown Law School, he was convicted of misdemeanor assault for striking a U.S. Senate aide during an argument at a Capitol Hill cash machine.

But his friends and neighbors said he had turned his life around, and they were surprised at his death.

Ted Koppel and his wife were not available for comment Friday, according to a representative. The family earlier issued a statement saying their son was “a brilliant, caring man, whose loss we will mourn for the rest of our lives.”

Andrew Koppel’s longtime girlfriend, Ilona Lieberman, did not return a message seeking comment. She had previously called his death devastating.

Koppel was appointed attorney for the city Housing Authority’s civil litigation division in 2001 and resigned the post in 2008, the agency said.

Ted Koppel is the former longtime anchor of the ABC News show “Nightline,” which he left in 2005. Andrew Koppel was one of his four children.

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