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Richardson died of skull bleeding

March 20, 2009|Associated Press

Tony-winning actress Natasha Richardson died of a brain injury after falling on a ski slope, an autopsy found Thursday.

The cause of death was epidural hematoma (bleeding between the skull and the brain's covering), said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner's office. Richardson was not wearing a helmet and the death was ruled an accident.

An epidural hematoma is often caused by a skull fracture. The bleeding causes a blood clot that puts pressure on the brain. That pressure can force the brain downward to press on the brain stem that controls breathing and other vital functions, causing coma or death.

Richardson, 45, died Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan after falling at the Mont Tremblant resort in Quebec on Monday.

Broadway theaters intended to dim their lights Thursday in honor of Richardson -- just as they had the night before for actor Ron Silver, who died of cancer on Sunday.

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