Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cocaine Found In Pham's System

This afternoon both the Daily Pilot, HERE, and the Orange County Register, HERE, posted stories that tell us the coroners report in the tragic death of Costa Mesa employee Huy Pham shows that he had traces of cocaine in his system when he threw himself off the roof of City Hall on March 17, 2011.

I was shocked and surprised - as I suspect most of you readers were - to hear this news and my reaction was that I need more information. Nothing in the public record implied that this young man had been a drug user - no previous record of arrests for even the most innocuous use of drugs exists in his background. I've been unable to find a credible authority online to define what that amount, .44 mg per liter of blood, tells us about his possible impairment.

We do know that Pham was off work with a broken foot and I'm going to assume that he either was, or had recently been, taking something for pain relief. I want to know more about the possibility of any pain medications he might have been taking being the reason for this cocaine in his system. I'm troubled that we don't know more.

But, what troubles me much, much more is the reaction to this story as ref
lected by the comments on the Daily Pilot and Register blogs - and here, too, for that matter. As I begin typing this entry both the Pilot and Register stories have tallied nearly 100 comments. Many, if not most, of those commenters are quick to assume that Pham was a drug user and that his leap from the roof was a result of that drug use. The callousness of the comments has left my head spinning. I was offended by them and, quite honestly, ashamed of those anonymous cowards who wrote them. They are very sad reflections of the decline of civility in our society today.

There is also a prevailing opinion in those threads that this information should take the heat off the current Costa Mesa City Council majority for their ill-conceived 6-month layoff notices last March - which is preposterous. While Pham's death was a horrible exclamation point to the events of St. Patrick's Day, it was only one element of what will certainly be remembered as the darkest day at the beginning of the darkest chapter in our city's history.

I have no idea how this story will play out. I hope further information will become available to us that explains the amount of cocaine apparently found in Pham's system. I hope it turns out to be residue of prescribed or over
the counter pain medication, but even if it is not, I hope we eventually know the truth.

In the meantime, shame on all of you who are so ready to jump on Pham's memory like hyenas attacking a kill. Your comments only pour salt in the festering wound that our municipal government has become since the first of the year.



Blogger Joe said...

Hear Hear!
Thanks again Geoff.

Das Register reader comments these days are particularly callous and ignorant across the board, not just under this story.

On 3/17/11 Pham was off from work with a broken foot. He'd gotten called in that day to receive the layoff notice- it's not like he was all tanked up driving a city vehicle around town, as some of those commentators would have us believe.

Call me cynical, but this story, at this time, reeks of set-up.

I think the current council members should be drug tested weekly.

5/26/2011 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous peace be with you said...

Tylenol codine comes to mind. I rolled an ankle. Worse than ten of my other breaks. Rest in peace

5/27/2011 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous mike m said...

The vultures are going to feast on this... very sad.

5/27/2011 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous NOT so CONvinced said...

PBS "Frontline" did an eye-opening investigation on the U.S. coroner system..."The sheriff-coroner in O.C. CA contracts w/ Juguilon Medical Corporation to provide autopsies. One of the company's doctors failed the certification exam at least five times, acknowledged Dr. Anthony Juguilon, the company's chief, in an email."

So the "Phamily" should request more tests! Also, check out this riveting investigation at: or just Google it. You'll be so shocked at what exactly is revealed!!

Rest in Peace Huy, I miss you!!

5/27/2011 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Matt Cunningham said...

Geoff: will we hear the same anger expressed at the callousness of those who malign the character of the CM councilmembers (except Wendy Leece), who impugn their motives, attack their character and try to damage their reputations?

Will the same willingness to grant the benefit of the doubt be extended to them?

5/27/2011 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous A Concerned Friend said...

The sad truth is no one knows what was in Huy's mind or body. Did he do cocaine once to get the nerve up to jump off the building? We don't know. This is not the time to demonize an employee who died or the current employees who work hard and are giving a 100% to the City of Costa Mesa. The blogs are being overun by people whose intent is to characterize or conceive evil. A real problem is occuring in Costa Mesa; however, city employees and Tom Hatch are working together diligently to solve this budget crisis. Thanks Geoff for a forum to share opinions. A.

5/27/2011 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Matt Cunningham said...

And in case anyone tries to make it so, my comment is not directed at Pham's death, which was tragic regardless of what impelled him to kill himself.

5/27/2011 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Matt Cunningham,
Probably not. Those council members are alive and able to defend themselves. And, those criticisms about which you seem so concerned are the result of a body of actions that cry out for criticism. No, I suspect those of us who are critical of their actions and motives for those actions will continue to express our views.

5/27/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Matt (again),
Our posts passed in the ether...

Thanks for the clarification. I didn't think you were attempting to pile-on in the mess of nasty comments about Pham. I did find it amusing, though, that a very prominent GOP activist and spokesman (you) chose to post a comment on this particular entry pleading for the GOP council members to be cut some slack.

5/27/2011 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...


Matt has a point. Even with critical commentary being warranted, the level of personal attacks on both sides is getting ridiculous. I have consciously backed away from the fray to avoid being mixed up with the infantile and amazingly outrageous comments posted by so many.

I have no hope that anything will change soon in our community when the level of the attacks becomes so bitter and personal that people can not see past their emotions to have a rational discussion.

God Bless Costa Mesa, if in His infinite wisdom He believes it is right to do so. I am not banking on it though.

5/27/2011 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

shame on the hyenas ready to exploit this news on Pham's death. The unions would never stoop so low would they? Did the OCGOP maniuplate the toxic report, we've got to know.

5/27/2011 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Matt Cunningham said...


I don't see what is amusing. Criticizing the council majority's policies and questioning their wisdom is perfectly legitimate. It's just that I've noticed that opponents of those policies often slide into personal attacks and claims about their supposed motives (which critics invariably ASSUME are nefarious).

So I find this fastidiousness regarding Mr. Pham an amusing contrast to the uninhibited manner in which council majority critics allow themselves to engage in personal attacks.

And for the record, in case you were trying to imply it with the "spokesman" crack, I am not a spokesman for anything or anyone in the Costa Mesa, although I support what the council majority is trying to accomplish.

5/27/2011 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous A Fellow Reader said...

Pot Stirrer (and all the rest of you who are like minded) are you even reading what you are writing?

Here you are admonishing anyone with an opinion other than yours after you have spent the past few years bad mouthing Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger as though they were common criminals. The only thing they are guilty of is fixing what was already broken (and mostly broken due to your friend Wendy Leece's irresponsible vote).

Then, when someone comes along who really did something illegal, you defend him to the death (literally).

Shame on all of you!!! None of you seem to know right from wrong.

5/27/2011 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Why did the toxiology report take 2 months to come out ? Don't these things take about a month ? Or is that only for celebrities and CSI stuff ? I dunno, the timing of this seems odd, especially with the Folsom interview coming a few days prior, which Billy stated that Pham did this for cultural reasons, then comes the personal attack.

I hate thinking this way, cause it's cold and callous, but at this point, I wouldn't put it past the council to inact in personal slander. :(

5/27/2011 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think exploiting his cocaine useis any better or worse than exploiting his death.

I have read numerous BLOG posts about the guy, by people that NEVER even met him. I wonder, which one of these "bloggers" bothered to talk to his Mom, his friends and neighbors.

It's a suckish situation all around

5/27/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Matt Cunningham, Yikes! A little sensitive, are we? The "spokesman crack", as you put it, referred to your relationship and interaction with the GOP movers and shakers in this county - including our Mayor Pro Tem. Your work on the Red County blog stands as a testimony to those relationships - not there's anything bad about that (as Jerry Seinfeld might say). I remain amused that you've chosen to speak on behalf of Righeimer, Mensinger, etc., on this particular issue. You're views are welcome here, of course, but are also subject to rebuttal and other responses.

Bruce Krochman, I agree - the comments are vicious and voluminous. Here most are pretty tame, but the Register and Daily Pilot threads are painful to read.

A Fellow Reader, Yep, I read what I write and, just as a reminder, this is MY BLOG - a place where I'll post whatever I darn well please, thank you very much. Whatever Pham did or did not do doesn't change my views on the actions this council is taking and isn't going to change my expression of concern.

FINALLY - on the subject of Anonymous postings.. I've been trying not to be a tyrant about it, cutting slack on those too lazy to pick a pen name. But, it's gotten out of hand again so, once again - NO MORE posts by Anonymous will be entered. This is just not hard to resolve, for goodness sake! Pick a name!!!

5/27/2011 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Hey "fellow reader" why do you guys keep railing on Leece for her "irresponsible vote"? Did not Monahan vote for the same contracts? How come you guys always seem to give him a pass? How about a little consistency. If Leece was irresponsible, than so was Monahan. And, if that is truly how you feel, I would hope that you and the CM Taxpayers Assoc will not support him com re-election time (should he choose to run again).

5/27/2011 08:13:00 PM  

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