On January 22, 2008, Ledger was found dead in his fourth-floor apartment at 421 Broome Street in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. According to police, housekeeper Teresa Solomon had arrived at approximately 12:30 p.m. EST to do household chores, entered the bedroom at about 1 p.m. to change a light bulb in the adjacent bathroom, and found Ledger face down on the bed, with a sheet pulled to his shoulders, and snoring. Masseuse Diana Wolozin arrived at approximately 2:45 p.m. to give Ledger a massage, and when he did not emerge from his bedroom by 3 p.m., called his cell phone and received no answer. Wolozin entered the bedroom, began to set up the massage table, and tried to wake the unresponsive Ledger. Wolozin called actress Mary-Kate Olsen, whose number was programmed in Ledger’s cell phone. She replied she would have a member of her security firm go to the apartment. After again attempting to rouse Ledger, Wolozin called Olsen again, and at 3:26 p.m. called 9-1-1. Emergency medical workers moved Ledger to the floor, used a defibrillator and CPR, and pronounced Ledger dead at 3:36 p.m.
Police said they found prescription medication in the bathroom and that there were “no obvious signs” of suicide, nor did they suspect foul play. An initial autopsy on January 23 proved inconclusive at determining Ledger’s cause of death. The medical examiner’s office stated it will take about 10 days to complete the investigation.
On January 23, 2008 (Australian time), Ledger’s parents and sister appeared outside his mother’s house in Applecross, a riverside Perth suburb, and read a short statement to the media:
We, Heath’s family, confirm the very tragic, untimely and accidental passing of our dearly loved son, brother and doting father of Matilda, who was found in a peaceful sleep in his New York apartment by his housekeeper at 3:30pm (New York Time). We would like to thank our friends and everyone around the world for their kind wishes at this time. Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life, but few had the pleasure to truly know him. He was a down-to-earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving and unselfish individual who was an extreme inspiration to many. Please now respect our family’s need to grieve and come to terms with our loss privately.
In reaction to his death, former partner Michelle Williams was reported as saying that she was “devastated” at the loss and had boarded a plane from Sweden to New York City. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd released a statement saying, “It was with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Heath Ledger… It is tragic that we have lost one of our nation’s finest actors in the prime of his life.”
Ledger’s death will affect the marketing campaign of The Dark Knight. His passing has also resulted in the indefinite suspension of production for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.