Investigation Continues Into House Fire That Led to Las Vegas Investor Tony Hsieh’s Death

Investigation Continues Into House Fire That Led to Las Vegas Investor Tony Hsieh’s Death

An investigation into the fire that led to retired Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s death will not be completed until at least next month, according to a news report.

Tony Hsieh
Tony Hsieh
Tony Hsieh, seen here, died from injuries in a Connecticut house fire in November.  Authorities ruled his death was the result of complications from smoke inhalation. (Image: New York Post)

Police and fire officials this week were continuing to investigate the cause and manner of a November house fire in New London, Connecticut, that resulted the Las Vegas investor’s death at age 46.

Hsieh died in a Bridgeport, Connecticut, hospital on Nov. 27, nine days after the fire. Authorities ruled his death was caused by complications from smoke inhalation.

One month after the fire, the cause remains unclear, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A investigation won’t be finalized until next month at the earliest, Jeffrey Londregan, law director for the city of New London, Connecticut, told the newspaper.

In the months leading up to his death, Hsieh had been experimenting with drugs and was “obsessed” with Fernet, an Italian liqueur, according to the Wall Street Journal.

However, the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner did not perform a toxicology screening on Hsieh after his death, according to the Review-Journal. The final report from the medical examiner will not be made public without the family’s approval.

Rehab Plans

Hsieh had been at the waterfront home in New London, Connecticut, visiting his girlfriend, Rachael Brown, and a brother, according to news reports. The $1.3-million house belong to Brown, a musician who began working at Las Vegas-based Zappos in 2004.

Fire crews were dispatched to the house at about 3:30 am on Nov. 18. Voices on emergency calls are heard saying someone was “barricaded” or “trapped” in the fire. Firefighters broke into an attached storage shed and removed Hsieh, who was unresponsive. He later was flown to the burn center at Bridgeport Hospital, about 65 miles west of New London.

In the final months of his life, Hsieh starved himself and weighed under 100 pounds, the Wall Street Journal reported. He was depriving himself of oxygen and using nitrous oxide, “which can induce hypoxia,” the newspaper reported.

His longtime friend Jewel, the singer-songwriter, briefly visited him after he moved to Park City, Utah, upon his retirement in August. She later sent him a “blunt” letter, saying he was using too many drugs.

The day before the fire, Hsieh was making plans to check himself into rehabilitation clinic in Hawaii, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Lasting Legacy

At his death, the unmarried Hsieh had amassed a fortune estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, but apparently had not made out a will or estate plan. A judge in Las Vegas since had named his brother, Andrew, and father, Richard, as co-special administrators and representatives of his estate.

Richard Hsieh issued a statement this week in support of a Tony Hsieh Memorial Fund in his son’s honor, according to KLAS-TV. Information regarding the project is on the Zappos website.

The outpouring of requests from individuals and businesses Tony had an impact on asking how they can contribute to celebrating Tony’s life and legacy has been sincerely moving,” Richard Hsieh said in the statement.

Tony Hsieh, a Harvard University graduate in computer science, was credited with spending millions to restore downtown Las Vegas near the casino district.

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