"Our son, Andrew, was a brilliant, caring man, whose loss we will mourn for the rest of our lives,” Koppel and his wife, Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, said in a statement.
Andrew Koppel, a 40-year-old former attorney with the New York City Housing Authority with a history of alcohol problems, was declared dead around 1:30 a.m. in a seedy Washington Heights apartment Police said Koppel had been drinking heavily for hours with a waiter he met that day, Russell Wimberly, and the pair went to Wimberly's apartment.
A roommate of Wimberly, Belinda Caban, told the New York Post that Koppel was extremely drunk and that they put him to bed, only to find him dead hours later. Wimberly, 32, said they met at Smith's Bar on 44th St. and Ninth Ave., striking up a conversation after each noticed the other wearing a similar straw hat.
"He said, 'Nice hat, man,'" Wimberly told the Post. "We got to talking and he started buying me drinks."
Wimberly said Koppel drank straight whiskey, and when he suggested bar-hopping around the city, he sipped from a pint bottle of Jameson as they walked.
"There was a lot of alcohol," Wimberly told the Post.
Koppel was the third of the "Nightline" anchor's four children and their only son. In 1993, he was convicted of punching a senate aide and ordered to undergo alcohol treatment. In 1990, he was in an alcohol-related fender-bender in Maryland.
Andrew Koppel was convicted of misdemeanor assault in 1994 for striking a U.S. Senate aide during an argument at a Capitol Hill automated teller machine. At the time, he was a student at Georgetown Law School.
An autopsy was performed Monday but results were pending further study, including toxicology and tissue testing, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner. Additional tests were needed to determine the manner and cause of death, Borakove said. They will take a few weeks to complete.