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Head injury from blunt impact killed actress, official confirms

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Medical examiner rules Natasha Richardson's death an accident
  • Ambulance crew was turned away, company official tells newspaper
  • Richardson died two days after falling on ski slope
  • Richardson initially showed no sign of injury, resort statement says
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(CNN) -- Actress Natasha Richardson died of injuries caused by blunt impact to the head, the New York City Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Thursday.

Neeson arrives on Broadway Thursday for a tribute to his wife, Natasha.

Natasha Richardson fell on a beginners' ski slope in Canada.

The death was ruled an accident, the office said.

Paramedics dispatched to help Richardson minutes after she fell on a Canadian ski slope Monday were turned away and did not have a chance to check her injury, the ambulance service director told a Toronto, Canada, newspaper.

Richardson -- a film star, Tony-winning stage actress and member of the famed Redgrave acting family -- died two days later in a New York hospital from a head injury suffered at a Quebec resort about 80 miles northwest of Montreal.

Yves Coderre, operations director for Ambulances Radisson, told Toronto's The Globe and Mail newspaper on Wednesday that his company sent an ambulance to the slopes at Mont Tremblant Ski Resort after a call from the ski patrol.

"They never saw the patient," Coderre said. "So they turned around." Video Watch how brain injuries can be hidden »

Coderre did not say who sent the ambulance away. Efforts by CNN to reach Coderre have been unsuccessful.

A resort spokeswoman said a statement was being prepared in response to the latest report.

An earlier statement from the resort said a paramedic from its ski patrol "arrived on the scene within minutes" after Richardson, 45, fell during a lesson on a beginners' trail.

The ski patrol paramedic "did not find any visible sign of injury," it said.

"As standard protocol, the ski patrol insisted Ms. Richardson be transported to the base of the hill in a rescue toboggan," it said. "Once at the base of the hill, Ms. Richardson was advised by staff to consider seeking additional medical attention which was declined."

The resort's statement said Richardson, accompanied by her instructor, returned to her hotel but about an hour after the fall was "not feeling good," the statement said.

Another ambulance was later called to the hotel, where paramedics found her conscious, but she "wasn't in good shape," Coderre said.

Richardson was taken to a local hospital before being transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal. From there she was transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

She and her husband, actor Liam Neeson, have two children, Michael and Daniel.

Her family issued a short statement Wednesday night acknowledging her death.

"Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

Richardson is a member of acting royalty. Her grandfather, Sir Michael Redgrave, was a famed British actor. Her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, is an Oscar-winning actress, and her father, late director Tony Richardson, helmed such films as "Look Back in Anger," "The Entertainer" and the Oscar-winning "Tom Jones." Video Watch a review of her career »

Richardson's uncle Corin Redgrave, aunt Lynn Redgrave and sister Joely Richardson are also noted performers.

Natasha Richardson won a Tony for her performance as Sally Bowles in the 1998 revival of "Cabaret" and earned raves for her Blanche DuBois in a 2005 production of "A Streetcar Named Desire."

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She was scheduled to perform in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" this year, after a January benefit performance of the show.

Broadway dimmed its lights Thursday evening in tribute to Richardson.

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