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San Jose Mercury News, Published May 07 2012

Report: Kinkade's death was caused by accidental overdose of alcohol, valium

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Thomas Kinkade's death has been ruled an accident after he overdosed on a cocktail of alcohol and Valium, a new report says.

NBC Bay Area posted to its website Monday evening a portion of the autopsy from the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's Office. Officials at the coroner's office said they could not provide the report until this morning.

Kinkade, the “Painter of Light,” was 54 when he died at his Monte Sereno, Calif., home on April 6. He was proclaimed as one of the most popular artists of all time, but relatives said the criticism he drew for producing works described by some as tacky took its toll in his final years. He eventually separated from his long-time wife, was arrested for drunken driving and battled an alcohol addiction.

Dr. Joseph O'Hara, the county's lead medical examiner, said in a report dated Wednesday that the cause of Kinkade's death was accidental “acute ethanol and Diazepam intoxication.”

Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Diazepam is a muscle relaxant usually sold under the brand name Valium that is sometimes used to treat agitation caused by alcohol withdrawal. It is also prescribed to treat anxiety, muscle spasms and seizures.

Also contributing to Kinkade's death, the report said, were “hypertensive and atherosclerotic heart disease.” Hypertension refers to heart problems caused by high blood pressure while atherosclerosis is plaque buildup in arteries.

Kinkade's brother, Patrick, previously told the San Jose Mercury News that the painter had battled alcoholism for four or five years and had been clean in recent months before relapsing prior to his death. His girlfriend had told police the morning of his death that he had been drinking all night, according to dispatcher recordings posted online.

A spokesperson for the Kinkades said the family had no immediate comment Monday.