MAYVILLE - The death of 25-year-old Leslie B. Carter Ashton was the result of an apparent drug overdose, the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office said.
Ashton, sister of pop stars Nick and Aaron Carter, was found unresponsive at the family's Potter Road home Tuesday afternoon.
Ashton, who lived in Etobicoke, Ontario, with her husband Mike and 10-month-old daughter Alyssa Jane, was visiting her father Robert and stepmother Ginger in Mayville.
Ashton's brother, Nick Carter, is known for being a member of the Backstreet Boys and brother Aaron is currently performing on Broadway. Ashton was known for the reality television show, House of Carters in 2006 and her single, "Like Wow!," was featured on the "Shrek" soundtrack in 2001.
"There has been a tremendous amount of inquiry into this by a number of different media outlets," said Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace. "It is a very difficult time for the family and it is a tragedy."
Chautauqua and Mayville first responders were dispatched to the home for advanced life-support Tuesday. A report provided by the Sheriff's Department on Thursday stated Mrs. Carter called 911 at 4:10 p.m. to report Ashton was asleep on her bed and not breathing. Carter was also reported to have started CPR before Mayville EMTs arrived on the scene.
Ashton was taken to Westfield Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:59 p.m.
According to the report, Mrs. Carter stated Ashton had a history of mental illness and was on medication for her depression. Medications found at the scene were listed as olanzapine, a medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; cyclobensaprine, a muscle relaxer; and alprazolam, a medication for anxiety and panic disorders. The police report states Mrs. Carter was with Ashton all day, beginning at 5 a.m., when she woke up to get her children ready for school. Mrs. Carter said Ashton woke at 10 a.m. and asked her to watch Alyssa Jane as she was not feeling well.
Ashton was found to have fallen in the shower later that day, and Mrs. Carter allegedly took her daughter into the bedroom and laid her on the bed. The report states Mrs. Carter said Ashton did not wake up when she entered several times with the baby, but was breathing and had all the color to her skin. Carter then came home and at 4:16 p.m. Ashton was found in the bedroom not breathing or responding. At that time he began CPR. EMS responders arrived on the scene and took her to Westfield Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by Richard Mackowiak, a county coroner.
The cause of the death was an apparent overdose, but the official cause of death notification has been withheld pending a toxicology test and full autopsy, which could take up to six weeks, Gerace said. The Coroner's Office reported no visible signs of trauma. Ashton's body was taken to the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office for the autopsy, according to the Erie County Health Department.
Ashton's body was released and the family has begun preparations for her funeral next week. They will decide whether to release the cause of death publicly once the toxicology report is released to them. A supplemental report provided by the Sheriff's Office stated that during the interview with Mrs. Carter, she appeared to be under the influence of an unknown drug. The report states she had slurred speech, pinpoint pupils and glassy eyes, and she kept falling asleep.
Police said she stated she took five or six pills for her depression, possibly Xanax. As the interview continued, police say she progressively got worse and officers feared she too was overdosing on the medication. She was taken to Westfield Memorial Hospital to be treated. Police reported Mrs. Carter told them she was only supposed to take four pills, but took extra due to Ashton's death.
"Our family is grieving right now and it's a private matter. We are deeply saddened for the loss of our beloved sister, daughter, and granddaughter, Leslie Carter," the Carter family said in a statement released by publicist Big Machine Media. "We request the utmost privacy during this difficult time."
A statement from Nick Carter on his website said he "is thankful to the many people and the fans who have shared their wishes and prayers during this tragic time. We want to let the fans know the tour will go on as promised. Performing is cathartic to me and I am dedicating the rest of my tour to my sister since she loved to watch me perform."