ST. LOUIS (AP) - Former Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV said the death of his girlfriend has been devastating and pushed him to the brink of falling into an even deeper depression than the one that has plagued him since his family's company was sold to Belgian brewer InBev more than two years ago.
In an interview in Tuesday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Busch made his first public comments since 27-year-old Adrienne Martin was found dead at his sprawling estate in suburban St. Louis on Dec. 19. Results of an autopsy aren't expected for up to a month.
"It's the saddest thing I've ever dealt with," Busch told the paper.
Busch, 46, didn't know what caused Martin's death but speculated it could be tied to medication she was taking. He also disputed a contention that there was a 42-minute gap between the time Martin was found unresponsive and a house employee, Michael Jung, called paramedics.
"Whatever time it was, I stayed there with her, and he immediately called 911," Busch said. "It was 30 seconds. We were panicky. To me, she felt kind of warm."
Busch told the newspaper he has struggled with depression since the sale of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., the maker of Budweiser and Bud Light. Busch's family founded the brewery in the mid-1800s, and in 2008, InBev purchased the company with the approval of Busch's father, former CEO August Busch III, and the board of directors.
"I would have given up my life to save the company," said Busch IV, who took over as chief executive upon his father's retirement in 2006. "But I couldn't do anything."
Since the sale, Busch IV has been out of the public eye, stopped attending beer industry events and divorced his wife of 2 1/2 years. He told the Post-Dispatch he had been in rehabilitation early last year for depression and "my other issues." He would not elaborate, but he has had other troubles in the past.
In 1983, Busch, then a 20-year-old University of Arizona student, left a bar near Tucson, Ariz., with a 22-year-old woman. His black Corvette crashed, and the woman was killed. Busch was found hours later at his home, and he suffered a fractured skull and claimed he had amnesia. After a seven-month investigation, authorities declined to press charges, citing a lack of evidence.
Two years later, Busch was acquitted by a jury in St. Louis on assault charges resulting from a police chase that ended with an officer shooting out a tire on his Mercedes-Benz.
In the interview, Busch said he awoke around 11 a.m. Dec. 19. He assumed Martin had also been sleeping.
"I went to the kitchen to make her a special shake," Busch said.
"I came back and tried to wake her up, and I couldn't. I checked for a pulse, and then I called Mike (Jung) and he checked, too."
Busch said Martin's ex-husband had told him Adrienne was taking "Trazodone, a sleep medication." Her ex-husband, Kevin J. Martin, 45, is an osteopathic physician who lives in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and the father of Adrienne's son, 8-year-old Blake.
Trazodone is a prescription drug used to treat depression but also sometimes used to treat insomnia, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Busch said Adrienne Martin may have taken too many Trazodones "for some reason." But he ruled out the possibility that she intentionally overdosed.
"No way," he said. "She was so excited. Things were going good."
Kevin Martin had a different version. He told the Post-Dispatch that it was Busch who told him Adrienne was taking the Trazodone, and that he "was surprised" because he discovered she had a heart condition - Long QT syndrome - in a test he administered in 2002. The syndrome can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats.
Kevin Martin said when someone has a heart condition, "you can't take Trazodone." He said his ex-wife was going to a health center for stress and exhaustion and was not getting much sleep.
Martin's mother told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday that she doesn't blame Busch for the death of her daughter, who she said had chronic insomnia. Christine Trampler said that after Martin's death, she learned that her daughter's doctor recently had increased the dosage of Trazadone.
"I don't think it was a good idea. She's so tiny," said Trampler, of Springfield, Mo.
Trampler said Martin told her the night before she died she was exhausted. Trampler got a call from a "distraught" Busch about five minutes after Martin was declared dead.
Busch and Martin had met through a mutual friend, Trampler said.
"I heard his reputation and wasn't thrilled," Trampler said of Busch. "I know he has a lot of money, I know his last name. But they're just normal people."
Busch said his relationship with Martin was so strong that he changed his playboy ways.
"She was the only girl I've ever been with that I didn't want to have someone on the side," Busch said. "You know, I'm this notorious bachelor who always wanted someone on the side, but I didn't with Adrienne."
Busch said that he plans to help Blake and has already set up a college fund for the boy.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com.