More On Pham's "Cocaine Use"
Sometimes when bad news happens it just keeps on coming. That is the case with the story that appeared Thursday in local newspapers online and in print Friday morning announcing that the toxicology report for Huy Pham, the young man who leaped to his death from the roof of Costa Mesa City Hall on St. Patrick's Day after he was called in to work from a medical absence to receive one of the 213 6-month layoff notices that day, showed that he had traces of cocaine in his blood. The amount was .44 milligrams per liter of blood.
MY EARLIER POST
The articles in both the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register produced blistering comment threads and I wrote about it in my earlier post, HERE.
"EXPERT" ANALYSIS OF THE REPORT
This afternoon the Register produced two more articles on this subject. Jaimee Fletcher, tells us HERE that a doctor specializing in drug detoxification is apparently convinced that the results of the toxicology report make it clear that Pham had been using cocaine. He dismissed the possibility that the number shown on the report might be the result of pain medication being taken due to his broken ankle. He is further quoted as saying, "Cocaine gets you excited, agitated and some people even go into hallucinations, but eventually it drops you down. People can get suicide depression when they use any type of drug, especially cocaine." If his assessment of this situation proves to be valid, it's a very disappointing finding.
In another article, columnist Barbara Venezia did a follow-up on her article yesterday, HERE, describing in greater detail her calls for comments to several Costa Mesa officials, some of whom she re-contacted again this morning.
STAVELEY CONCERNED FOR THE FAMILY
Among those with whom she spoke was Costa Mesa Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley, who described the substance shown on the report and referred her to Wikipedia for a more thorough understanding. She quotes Staveley as saying, "Someone needs to get this information out for this man's family."
THE "LEAK" SPECULATION
Throughout the comment threads in both the Daily Pilot and Orange County Register writers complained that this information was "leaked" to the press in response to the favorable Register column published by Frank Mickadeit on Billy Folsom earlier in the week. That seemed callous, even for those who might have had a hand in doing it. So I did some checking.
THE REPORT WAS GETTING STALE
The story I have is that the toxicology report was completed earlier this month and a copy was mailed to Pham's family on May 11th and was accompanied by a message left on a family member's voice mail alerting them to the results. It's my understanding that the Daily Pilot's Joe Serna, reading the Mickadeit column, was jogged to followup on the toxicology report and called the coroner's office. He was told that it had been available to the public for two weeks, so he drove up to Santa Ana, paid $1.50, got the report and wrote his article.
THE FACTS AS WE KNOW THEM
At this point we have the fact that a substance was found in Pham's blood that is a byproduct of cocaine use and an "expert" opinion confirming that it likely did not come from some other substance Pham had ingested. I don't know if there are any "official" evaluations in the works for the results of the report. If not, we are left only to conclude that Pham, indeed, used cocaine sometime prior to jumping to his death on March 17th this year. If this is the end of it - if no other experts are called upon to evaluate and comment on this report - it makes an already-tragic event even more so and leaves an indelible stain on the collective memory of this young man.
BUDGET ALMOST LOST IN THE DRAMA
And the caustic comments continue to be posted in both local newspapers and I fully expect to see letters to the editor in print within a few days, too. Almost lost in all this drama is the fact that, on Tuesday, the Costa Mesa City Council will hold another study session in which the Expenditure side of the budget will be discussed. This will be the meeting at which cuts necessary to squeeze out at least $3.3 million from the 2011/2012 budget will be hammered out. It's not going to be a pretty sight and the revelations of Pham's alleged cocaine use will certainly make nerves raw on both sides.