Coroner's inquest begins in Aaliyah death. Two years after her fatal air crash, the singer's official cause of death is announced

By Gary Susman
November 19, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

More than two years after the fatal small-plane crash that killed Aaliyah and the seven others aboard, the investigation into the accident continues, with the coroner’s inquest opening Monday in the Bahamas. The Associated Press reports that, Dr. Giovander Raju, the pathologist who performed the autopsies, testified that the 22-year-old singer died of severe burns and a blow to the head. Raju added that Aaliyah ”suffered generally from a weak heart.”

”Aaliyah went into such a state of shock, even if she had survived the crash, recovery would have been near impossible,” Raju testified.

On August 25, 2001, the twin-engine Cessna 402B, carrying Aaliyah and her retinue from the Bahamas to Florida after her ”Rock the Boat” video shoot, crashed shortly after takeoff. Over the next few months, investigators said that they believed the plane had been severely overloaded with passengers and video equipment. Last year, the Bahamas Department of Civil Aviation issued a statement saying that an autopsy and toxicology reports had found cocaine and alcohol in the bloodstream of pilot Luis Morales. Aaliyah’s family filed negligence suits against the plane’s owners and operators and against Virgin Records, but the family announced via court papers in September that it had reached out-of-court settlements with the defendants.

Aaliyah’s popularity remains undiminished. She was named Best Female R&B/Hip-Hop Artist at the Billboard Awards in August, and on Sunday, she earned Favorite R&B Female Artist kudos at the American Music Awards.