Medication Mix Killed Vladimir Coroner Rules On Child Of Raphael

Posted: February 06, 1992

Allison Vladimir's death was caused by the "combined adverse effect" of a number of medications she had taken, Bucks County Coroner Thomas J. Rosko said yesterday.

Rosko ruled the death of Vladimir, the 33-year-old daughter of television talk-show host Sally Jessy Raphael, an accident.

Rosko said the drugs were legal and had been prescribed by a doctor for "a variety of illnesses." He said there was no evidence that Vladimir committed suicide.

"It was a tragic accident," Rosko said at a news conference in Doylestown.

Vladimir was found unconscious early Sunday in a bed in the seven-room converted barn home of Raphael.

The home is behind the Isaac Stover House, a 160-year-old mansion in Tinicum Township along the Delaware River that the TV personality converted into a bed and breakfast.

Rosko refused to identify the medicines taken by Vladimir, which he said also included over-the-counter medications, or her ailments.

"I won't identify the medications because it is not germane to the cause of death, and out of respect for the privacy of the deceased and her family," Rosko said.

A source close to the investigation said Vladimir's death was due to a combination of medications and alcohol.

Rosko said that Vladimir had consumed some alcohol and that it was a contributing factor to her death. He said that she was not intoxicated and that the level of alcohol in her body was not high.

He said the alcohol "certainly contributed to her stoppage of breathing," but also said he believed that even without the alcohol, the medications would have caused her death.

"You add them all together with some alcohol and you have in essence a potentially lethal combination," the source said.

Rosko said one medication was a painkiller and indicated that it may have been taken by Vladimir for a back problem.

As for the other medications, Rosko would only say, "It was more than one and less than 10."

Rosko said Vladimir's obesity and heavy cigarette-smoking habit ''hastened" her death.

Rosko said that Vladimir was about 5-foot-6 and weighed "well over 200 pounds" (another source said she weighed about 300 pounds) and that she smoked two to three packs of cigarettes a day.

"The level of drugs would have affected her ability to breathe. Being overweight and smoking would have damaged the lungs and she would have been less able to withstand the effects of the drugs," Rosko said.

He said that the drugs were not found in Vladimir's body in very high levels and by themselves were not lethal, and that there were no overdoses involved.

"Individually, any one was not enough to kill. But the collective effects were enough to cause her death," Rosko said.

Vladimir, of White Plains, N.Y., was found by a man Rosko identified as Robert Ascott, 45, also of White Plains. Rosko said Ascott was Vladimir's weekend companion at the home and that he found her unresponsive about 3:15 a.m. Sunday.

She was taken to Doylestown Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by Deputy Coroner Keith Preston.

Burt Dubrow, executive producer of Raphael's talk show, said in a telephone interview that the family was in seclusion and would have no comment.

Dubrow said Vladimir's funeral was held yesterday and was private.

"I knew Allison very well. I will say she had a back problem. Other things are private and I'm not going to go into it," he said.

"She was running around and trying to deal with a lot of things," said Dubrow.

"The speculation on what Rosko is saying is that you put the whole bunch of legal prescriptions together and God knows what can happen," he said.

He said the taping of Raphael's show would be discontinued through next week. When taping is resumed, he said, "probably we'll certainly talk about it (the death) in general on the show."

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