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Questions linger after house fire that killed Tony Hsieh

Updated December 18, 2020 - 4:05 am

A month after the house fire that led to the death of tech entrepreneur Tony Hsieh, answers about what happened that night remain limited.

And an investigation that could reveal additional details is not expected to be finalized until next month at the earliest, according to Jeffrey Londregan, law director for the city of New London, Connecticut.

Hsieh, the former CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos, died Nov. 27 from complications of smoke inhalation following a fire that occurred nine days earlier at a home in New London. The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the 46-year-old’s death an accident.

Fire officials and police are conducting a joint investigation into the Nov. 18 fire.

What caused the fire remains unclear. There also are unanswered questions about whether Hsieh was “trapped” or “barricaded” during the fire, as both terms were used in archived emergency responder radio traffic.

Calls on Thursday to Fire Chief Thomas Curcio, an assistant for Police Chief Peter Reichard and Fire Marshal Vernon Skau were not returned.

Reports of drug use

Multiple news reports have indicated that Hsieh was abusing drugs in the months leading up to his death.

In August, the same month he retired as CEO of Zappos, Hsieh’s family and friends were concerned for his welfare and were trying to get him into rehab, records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal show.

However, the medical examiner’s office has offered no indication that substances played a role in Hsieh’s death. The office did not perform a toxicology screening on Hsieh after he died, according to Linda Sylvia, executive secretary for the office.

Whether the hospital conducted a toxicology screening is unclear. A spokesman for Bridgeport Hospital, where Hsieh died, would not provide any information about the care Hsieh received or any tests that may have been performed, citing patient privacy.

And whether the autopsy conducted by the medical examiner’s office becomes public depends on whether Hsieh’s family consents to its release. No one was available to handle media inquiries at the medical examiner’s office on Thursday.

“At the moment, the Hsieh family are grieving a beloved son and brother and have nothing to say on the question of the autopsy report,” Miguel Head, a spokesman for the family, said in a statement.

What Hsieh wanted done with his fortune also remains a mystery because he died without a will. Hsieh’s father and a brother were appointed administrators of his estate early this month.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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