“He loved his life,” Chris Cornell’s widow Vicky told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in her first television interview since the family tragedy. “He would never have ever left this world.”
In the interview, Vicky shared a March 2017 email Chris sent admitting to a drug relapse, and details from an investigation into his autopsy by Dr. Richard Cote.
“Our family was his everything,” she said. “As soon as he got off stage, he was a dad, he was a regular dad.”
“He wanted to be there for his family, for his children. He loved his life,” Vicky Cornell said. “I don’t think that he could make any decisions because of the level of impairment.”
Dr. Richard Cote, the chair of the department of pathology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who conducted an independent analysis of Chris Cornell’s autopsy, told ABC News that two drugs found in his system at the time of his death may have resulted in impaired judgment and motor functions.
“They were not at levels that would’ve caused his death; in other words, it wasn’t an overdose,” Cote said. “But what the two drugs did individually and in combination was to really impair his judgment and make him psychically unable to be responsive in ways that he normally would be responsive.”
Vicky Cornell recalled the year before her husband’s death, when she said he fell back into addiction after being sober since 2003.
“Approximately a year before he died, he was prescribed a benzodiazepine to help him sleep,” she said. “He had torn his shoulder … the pain in the shoulder was waking him up at night and it was keeping him up.”
The new drugs changed her husband, she said.
“The brain of someone who has a substance use disorder is different from that of … someone who doesn’t,” Vicky Cornell said. “He relapsed.”
“He had really delayed speech,” she recalled of the dark time when her husband’s addiction took over. “He was forgetful.”
Last March, Chris Cornell reached out to a colleague for help, writing in an email, “Would love to talk, had relapse.”
Just two months later, he uncharacteristically walked off stage in the middle of what would turn out to be his final performance and died hours later in his hotel room.
Vicky Cornell said explaining what happened to her children the following day was “the most tragic thing you can ever go through.”
“They’re, you know, crying, ‘Is Daddy OK?’” she recalled. “And I said to my babies, “Yeah … the ambulance is there and they’re taking Daddy to the hospital, and I’m just going to go to the hospital.”
Watch the interview and see a screenshot of Cornell’s email admitting to relapsing below.