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Actress Natasha Richardson dies after ski accident

Tony Award-winning actress Natasha Richardson died today after a fall yesterday at a Quebec ski resort, according to a family statement. No cause of death was given, but it has been widely reported that the seemingly minor tumble led to bleeding in the brain.

As ScientificAmerican.com reported earlier, Richardson, 45, appeared to be okay and refused medical care after taking a spill on a beginner's slope during a private lesson at the Mont Tremblant Ski Resort some 80 miles northwest of Montreal, according to a resort spokesperson. But about an hour later,  she was taken to a local hospital -- and then transferred to Hôpital Sacré-Coeur in Montreal-- after complaining of a severe headache. Her husband, actor Liam Neeson, 56, rushed to her side from a movie set in Toronto. The couple have two sons, ages 12 and 13.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the British-born actress lapsed into unconsciousness hours after the fall and was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, where she was surrounded by family and friends, including Neeson, her mother actress Vanessa Redgrave and her sister actress Joely Richardson.

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

To find out more about Richardson's likely injury, ScientificAmerican.com spoke with neurosurgeon Keith Black, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

 Image credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/KHEDARA

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