Wardell R. Lazard, who was found dead last week in Pittsburgh, had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal driving limit and probably snorted an extremely potent dose of cocaine in the hour before his death, Allegheny County officials said yesterday.
Lazard, founder of W.R. Lazard & Co., had a blood alcohol level of 0.32% - more than three times the legal Pennsylvania limit of 0.10% for driving, said Charles Winek, Allegheny County's chief toxicologist and director of laboratories.
Such a high level of alcohol in the blood would put a normal person in an "unconscious or semiconscious state," Winek said.
In addition, cocaine found near Lazard's body was 83% pure, according to a preliminary toxicology report from the Allegheny County department of laboratories.
Cocaine and ethylcocaine, formed from the combination of alcohol and cocaine, were found in Lazard's body, Winek said.
Winek estimated that Lazard had snorted the cocaine within an hour before he died because cocaine was found in Lazard's urine. Generally, within an hour and a half after cocaine use, a metabolite of cocaine, benzyl ecgonine, rather than cocaine itself, would be found, Winek said.
The combination of alcohol and cocaine is more toxic than cocaine itself, Winek said. It is possible that the combination caused Lazard's heart to beat irregularly and then to stop, Winek said.
The coroner must make the final determination on the cause of death. An official ruling on the cause and manner of death could be made before the end of the week, the Allegheny County coroner's office said.
A final, written toxicology report should be available today, Winek said.
The Allegheny County coroner's office has already issued an initial death certificate listing the cause of death as pending.
"We will not unpend the death before we get the final report," Allegheny County chief deputy coroner Jim Gregris said yesterday.