Three weeks after he was found dead in the Tucson desert, country singer Luke Bell’s cause of death has been revealed. According to a spokesperson for the Pima County Medical Examiner’s office the singer’s autopsy report revealed that Bell, 32, died of fentanyl intoxication; the cause of death was listed as accidental.
According to KGUN, the autopsy reportedly noted that a passerby found Bell — who was reported missing several days before his body was found on August 26 — unresponsive in a shaded area of a parking lot with drug paraphernalia nearby.
At the time of his death, Bell’s friends and management/label team told Billboard that the “Where Ya Been” singer would sometimes go missing for weeks at a time. While his family and inner circle would spend sleepless nights searching homeless camps, hospitals and local jails for Bell, who revealed to fans in a July Facebook post that he suffered from bipolar disorder.
“Each day is different and presents new challenges. The trouble with bipolar is not knowing which personality is going to show up for the day,” he explained. And though he eventually turned up all those other times — including once when he was found wandering shoeless and without a coat on Christmas Eve in Denver — this time they feared the worst.
“He was witty and very smart, disarming… in more recent years he carried on like he was a country bumpkin, but he knew more than he let on,” said his longtime manager and friend Brian Buchanan. “He was just kind, not malicious or mean… unless he was under the spell of his demons,” Buchanan added. “One time he was in a real bad way and he wouldn’t answer to ‘Luke.’ He’d say, ‘I’m not Luke,’ and be dead serious. He would fight your over it.”
Speaking to members of Bell’s inner circle in the wake of his death, the common thread they all pulled was a tale of a kind-hearted, wildly talented songwriter and performer who was laid low by devastating mental health struggles that required constant vigilance, and tender understanding from friends and family who knew his true heart — and fought like hell to get him the help he needed.
Listen to Bell’s “Where Ya Been” below.