[h2]In car crash aftermath, man wanted more cocaine, inquest told[/h2]
[h4]Richard Watts, Times Colonist[/h4]
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Even after crashing his car, a hysterical man reached for a syringe and managed one intelligible word, "cocaine," a B.C. coroner's inquest heard Tuesday.
Colin Coxon testified that after he witnessed the crash and went to help, he found the man in the driver's seat of the wrecked car screaming incoherently. Then, the man reached down, pulled up a travel coffee mug and produced a syringe. Coxon heard him speak the word "cocaine" and then saw him try to roll up his sleeve.
"He was frantically trying to inject himself," said Coxon. "He didn't even look at me."
He was testifying in the inquest into the death of David Kenneth Smelts, 45, who died Oct. 6, 2006, after crashing his car on the Trans-Canada Highway near Millstream Road about 7:30 p.m.
Coxon and another witness, Dennis Cronk, of Nanaimo, both testified they saw the car leave the northbound lane of the highway, cross the grassy median, the two southbound lanes and crash into the far median.
Coroner's counsel John Orr told the jury he expected testimony will reveal Smelts was removed from the car and his heart stopped on the roadside. Revived by paramedics, he was transported by ambulance to Victoria General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Lee testified he pronounced the cause of death to be "cocaine intoxication."
Lee said an autopsy revealed Smelts had a slightly enlarged heart and signs of high blood pressure but nothing that would conclusively prove to be fatal, except the drug. "There were no other signs but the high level of cocaine in the blood."
Toxicologist Dr. Charles Martz said a blood sample showed Smelts had a blood concentration of 3.9 mg/litre. That's very high, when considering a normal line of cocaine, snorted up the nose, will yield a blood concentration of 0.2 mg/litre to 0.4 mg/litre.
West Shore RCMP Const. Shawn Paul said his first concern upon finding a hysterical Smelts, still behind the wheel holding a syringe, was to subdue him so paramedics could begin to administer medical aid.
Once Smelts had dropped the syringe, Paul said he and other officers pulled him, flailing wildly, out of the car. They put him on the pavement face-down and handcuffed him behind his back. When he tried to bang his head on the pavement, they placed a pillow underneath and rolled him on his side so he could breathe.
"Then I noticed he had stopped breathing," said Paul, who remembers telling paramedics, who began emergency measures.
Const. Jan Malinowsky, of the West Shore RCMP, was first on scene. She testified she tried to calm Smelts while he was still behind the wheel and learn what sort of drugs he had taken to pass on the information to paramedics.
And when Malinowsky mentioned the word "cocaine" and asked him if had taken any, Smelts stopped raving, looked directly at her and spoke the only intelligible sentence she heard him utter, likely his last. "Yes, $240 worth, and it's all gone," said Smelts, according to Malinowsky's testimony.
The inquest is scheduled to continue today
The original story can be found here
I think this is sad. But its interesting to see that this story was written on the 27 November and was only about day 1 of the inquest but the story doesnt seem to have been followed up on day 2. Was this because the police were found to be negligent in their care of the prisoner? who knows.